My reflection for each day in Advent celebrates examples of action in the world inspired by hope and the desire to bring closer God’s kingdom of love, peace and justice. These examples are set within a reflection on a piece of Scripture the Church provides for reading daily.
One of the Scripture texts set for today highlights the centrality of healing at the foundation of the Christian hope and vision for the world.
“Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and curing every disease and every sickness.” Matthew 9:35
It is striking in this text to see the words “all” and “every”; reflecting the universality of concern which is at the core of the love of neighbour in the Christian vision. No community is to be excluded from access to peace and justice; no condition or illness is to be regarded as beyond the reach of healing and care.
The impetus within the Christian faith and community towards healing and care found expression in the growth of European civilization through the establishment of hospitals and homes for the poor and vulnerable. Many of the great hospitals today for example can trace their origins back to a religious foundation; in some cases, e.g. St Bartholomew’s in London, over 800 years.
Today that motivation to bring healing and care to all those in pain and distress in every condition is shared across many spiritual and secular traditions and has been embedded in our society in large-scale organisations such as the NHS , the hospitals and health centres across the country, staffed by professionals who have dedicated years of study and training to employ the best knowledge and resources to the task. In an advanced welfare economy like ours the numbers of people and the amount of resources engaged in healthcare in all its aspects is almost beyond any one person’s capacity to comprehend. Instead, it is in those caring one-to-one encounters between the patient and the healer when the signs are revealed which give hope that there is a kingdom where love holds sway.