We continue the tradition of celebrating the Healing Ministry week ecumenically. The Christian Medical Association of India (CMAI), National Council of Churches of India (NCCI) and the Catholic Healthcare Networks in India have selected this year’s Healing Week Theme: “Women – leaders in healing ministry!” These Bible studies enhance our understanding of the contribution and role of women in this noble ministry.
This booklet is meant for the Catholic Network.
How to Celebrate the Healing Ministry Week?
i. In Healthcare Institutions
Arrangements could be made for everyone in the hospital to join the prayers, but with due discretion and full respect for those sick people of other faiths and those with no religious persuasion. Inform the patient’s relatives of the gathering. Printed materials, with inspirational texts and prayers could be distributed. One or more of the patients, if willing and able to do so, may remain alongside the celebrant during readings and prayer; and a few symbolic gestures may also be planned.
Organize awareness programs and meaningful celebrations for the staff engaged in healthcare.
ii. Community/Parish level
In collaboration with committed volunteers, organize events such as: Paraliturgical Celebrations, Community celebration of the Blessings and Anointing of the Sick, ecumenical bible service, inter-religious prayer service for the sick, health awareness seminar, medical camps, cultural events, charitable events, etc
We will be interested to know how you celebrated the Health and Healing Week and the World Day of the Sick. Please write to us. We welcome your suggestions to continue to have meaningful programs in the future.
CBCI Office for Health Care
CBCI Centre , 1, Ashok Place, Gole Dakkhana, New Delhi-110 001
Tel. 011-23340772 / 23340774, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Catholic Health Association of India (CHAI)
Director General, The Catholic Health Association of India, 157/6, Staff Road,
Gunrock Enclave, Secunderabad, A.P. , INDIA, Pin: 500009.
Ph: +91-40-27848457, 27848293, email@example.com
•For all those who contributed in writing these Bible Studies, especially, to Rev A I David, UTC, Bangalore; Dr Sujatha Charles, St. Stephens Hospital; Dr Priya John, CMAI; Ms Anuvinda Varkey, CCHI; Dr Leila Caleb, Rev Dr George Varghese, Fr Thomas Ninan, CMAI; Rev Sharth David, CMAI; Sr Helen Saldanha, CBCI.
•Members of Catholic Health Care network, especially CHAI, SDFI, CNGI, and CBCI-CARD
We gratefully acknowledge them for their valuable contributions.
Fr Dr Mathew Abraham C.Ss.R
Secretary, Office for Health Care
Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India
MESSAGE OF POPE FRANCIS
FOR THE 22nd WORLD DAY OF THE SICK 2014
Faith and Charity: “We Ought to Lay Down Our Lives for One Another” (1 Jn 3:16)
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
1. On the occasion of the Twenty-second World Day of the Sick, whose theme this year is Faith and Charity: “We Ought to Lay Down Our Lives for One Another” (1 Jn 3:16), I turn in a special way to the sick and all those who provide them with assistance and care. The Church recognizes in you, the sick, a special presence of the suffering Christ. It is true. At the side of – and indeed within – our suffering, is the suffering of Christ; he bears its burden with us and he reveals its meaning. When the Son of God mounted the cross, he destroyed the solitude of suffering and illuminated its darkness. We thus find ourselves before the mystery of God’s love for us, which gives us hope and courage: hope, because in the plan of God’s love even the night of pain yields to the light of Easter, and courage, which enables us to confront every hardship in his company, in union with him.
2. The incarnate Son of God did not remove illness and suffering from human experience but by taking them upon himself he transformed them and gave them new meaning. New meaning because they no longer have the last word which, instead, is new and abundant life; transformed them, because in union with Christ they need no longer be negative but positive. Jesus is the way, and with his Spirit we can follow him. Just as the Father gave us the Son out of love, and the Son gave himself to us out of the same love, so we too can love others as God has loved us, giving our lives for one another. Faith in God becomes goodness, faith in the crucified Christ becomes the strength to love to the end, even our enemies. The proof of authentic faith in Christ is self-giving and the spreading of love for our neighbours, especially for those who do not merit it, for the suffering and for the marginalized.
3. By virtue of Baptism and Confirmation we are called to conform ourselves to Christ, who is the Good Samaritan for all who suffer. “We know love by this, that he laid down his life for us – and we ought to lay down our lives for one another” (1 Jn 3:16). When we draw near with tender love to those in need of care, we bring hope and God’s smile to the contradictions of the world. When generous devotion to others becomes the hallmark of our actions, we give way to the Heart of Christ and bask in its warmth, and thus contribute to the coming of God’s Kingdom.
4. To grow in tender love, and a respectful and sensitive charity, we have a sure Christian model to contemplate: Mary, the Mother of Jesus and our Mother, who is always attentive to the voice of God and the needs and troubles of her children. Mary, impelled by God’s mercy which took flesh within her, selflessly hastened from Galilee to Judea to find and help her kinswoman Elizabeth. She interceded with her Son at the wedding feast of Cana when she saw that there was a shortage of wine. She bore in her heart, throughout the pilgrimage of her life, the words of the elderly Simeon who foretold that a sword would pierce her soul, and with persevering strength she stood at the foot of the cross of Jesus. She knows the way, and for this reason she is the Mother of all of the sick and suffering. To her we can turn with confidence and filial devotion, certain that she will help us, support us and not abandon us. She is the Mother of the crucified and risen Christ: she stands beside our crosses and she accompanies us on the journey towards the resurrection and the fullness of life.
5. Saint John, the disciple who stood with Mary beneath the cross, brings us to the sources of faith and charity, to the heart of the God who “is love” (1 Jn 4:8,16). He reminds us that we cannot love God if we do not love our brothers and sisters. Those who stand with Mary beneath the cross learn to love as Jesus does. The cross is “the certainty of the faithful love which God has for us. A love so great that it enters into our sin and forgives it, enters into our suffering and gives us the strength to bear it. It is a love which enters into death to conquer it and to save us… the cross of Christ invites us also to allow ourselves to be smitten by his love, teaching us always to look upon others with mercy and tenderness, especially those who suffer, who are in need of help” (Way of the Cross with Young People, Rio de Janeiro, 26 July 2013).
I entrust this Twenty-second World Day of the Sick to the intercession of Mary. I ask her to help the sick to bear their sufferings in fellowship with Jesus Christ and to support all those who care for them. To all the ill, and to all the health-care workers and volunteers who assist them, I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing.
From the Vatican, 6 December 2013
© Copyright - Libreria Editrice Vaticana
BIBLE TEXT, REFLECTIONS AND PRAYERS
For Healing Ministry Week, 2014
Day 1 - WOMEN’S FAITH: A SOURCE OF HEALING AND WHOLENESS
Passage: Matthew 15: 21-28The passage is the story of a woman's faith. It begins with the controversial dialogue between the Canaanite woman, Jesus and his disciples. Jesus ignores her and his disciples were equally unsympathetic; Jesus openly declares that his mission is exclusively to the lost people of Israel. The woman seemed unaffected and repeats her request demonstrating her unshaken faith. She did not resent the analogy (non-Jews as dogs) and remained within Jesus' framework and persistently pleaded her case. Her struggle eventually yielded fruit as Jesus acknowledged and praised her strong faith.
God's plan of salvation includes all - no Jews or Gentiles, no discrimination based on gender, class, caste, race, ethnicity etc. Struggle with God in such a situation is not unbelief but acknowledged as great faith. It is an example of a victorious faith of the woman, where her perseverance has led to healing and wholeness of her daughter.
For further discussions1. How does this passage speak to us in a pluralistic Indian context, where people of different faith engage with us as health professionals or as a Christian in a hospital / church / organization irrespective of religious boundaries?
2. The woman's persistence makes her a leader to recognize a crisis beyond religious, cultural, gender and social barriers, perhaps even in the form of changing Jesus' perception of his mission and ministry. How can we recognize the power of faith of women to broaden the mission and ministry of the churches of the health care institutions and professionals?
Day 2 - WOMEN AND MEN: PARTNERS IN HEALING MINISTRY
Passage: John 4: 1- 42
The passage relates well with various challenges that we recognize today in the context of how men and women struggle to recognize each other as partners. Perceptions often are the root causes of one's attitude about the other, even in the context of understanding our roles and responsibilities as a man and a woman. Jesus as a man takes the initiative to relate to the woman, acknowledging her as a person, overcoming cultural, gender and religious barriers of his times. It takes a while for the woman to recognize and prioritize what Jesus is trying to convey. This passage helps us to realize that a healthy attitude towards the other, especially the women, could lead to healing and wholeness both for the women and the community. Once we are convinced about the value of such healthy partnership, it leads us becoming change agents within the community. The woman goes back to her community and is able to successfully convey the message and connect them to the source of healing in Jesus. The community is also challenged to overcome their own inhibitions to listen to the woman, given her background, thereby recognizing the value of giving a chance for partnership.
For further discussions
1. How does Christ prioritize the culturally defined roles of male and female cutting across gender barriers? What is the paradigm shift that Christ leads us to, in our context?
2. How can men and women be equal partners of power and responsibility in the context of a family, church, community, hospital or workplace?
Day 3 - WOMEN AS AGENTS OF TRANSFORMATION
Passage: Luke 24: 1 – 12, 22 – 27
The apostles did not believe the women who announced the good news about the resurrection, because their words seemed to them like nonsense. Even as we acknowledge the role of the apostles during the time of Christ and in the early Church, isn't it strange that it was the women who were the first recipients of the Lord's resurrection? The difficulty with which this was received by the apostles should be a good reminder to us that there is not much of a difference in which we acknowledge women as agents of transformation even today. Their experiences, though mostly unacknowledged in the Bible, are crucial to our understanding about women being agents of transformation, both in the Bible and today.
The greatest aspect of Christian life is the transformation that is brought by the resurrection of Christ, as it symbolized the victory over sin, injustice, suffering and death. This story of transformation continues, as reflected through the lives of great women such as Ida Scudder, Mother Teresa, Clara Swain and many others both in history and through many who are living with us, the lives of whom are worth emulating. Amidst challenges in an imperfect world, we need to recognize that the risen Christ, even today, in the form of the Holy Spirit, guides and inspires us, not in isolation, but through each one of us. Only then can a wholesome transformation happen, within us, and through us to the people we relate to.
For further discussions
1. How relevant are women in the journey of transformation, in our context?
2. What are the barriers that hinder us from recognizing women as agents of transformation?
Day 4 - VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN: FACING CHALLENGES
Passage : John 8:1-10
Jesus stands by, and heals the woman accused of adultery. The first challenge Jesus faced in this incident is to prevent the men from throwing the first stone. Speaking up for women and girls in violence requires the shedding of fears we are gripped with. Only then we can be healers, who can respond to the call of being channels of God's grace to bring wholeness to humankind and creation. As we look at the woman in John 8: 1-10, desolate and isolated at the feet of Jesus, we are reminded of many women implicated or totally blamed for being promiscuous or immoral, while the other half involved enjoys immunity and is let off. It also exposes the widespread gender discrimination embedded in our society and culture, making women's lives insecure from the womb itself. Hence, the second challenge we face in the issue of violence against women is the redeeming of our stereotyped mind set, and to break free from a culture of silence and a culture of domination that prevents us from being just and compassionate.
Various forms of gender violence such as feticides, infanticides, child marriages, genital mutilation, sexual assaults, rapes, human trafficking, bride burning, dowry murders, desertion, domestic violence, acid attacks, and witch-hunting are serious threats to health of our society. Violence has no national, cultural, religious, class or caste boundaries and is perpetrated by exclusion of women from decision making and ownership rights. In spite of progressive laws and international conventions that uphold the commitment by the governments to create a violent-free society, we are grappling with various forms gender based violence inside and outside homes. Violence against women and girls is often shrouded by a culture of silence due to fear and stigma that prevents women from reporting crimes or seeking assistance. The situation is worse when it comes to the people living in the margins of society - Dalit, Tribal, and minority groups, those living in war-torn and conflict zones. In John 10:10 Jesus proclaims that he came to give us life in abundance. Violence and the related power dynamics stifle the possibility of this abundant life. It takes courage to speak and act with comparison when we confront those who encourage violence or do nothing to prevent violence in this world. An abundant life is possible when we allow ourselves to be changed and thereby become a source of strength, especially in the context of violence.
For further discussions
1. In what ways does violence against women affect the health of the society? What are the challenges faced?
2. How can we be channels of God's grace for violent free homes, and society?
Day 5 - WOMEN AND HEALTH : OUR ROLES AND RESPONSIBILITIES
Passages : Psalm-139:14; Proverbs-31:10-31
The Psalmist in Psalm139:14 affirm that we are “fearfully and wonderfully made.” God created man and woman in His image (Genesis 1: 27). In this God given role, how do we fulfill our responsibilities as women and men, especially in the realm of healing ministry? The WHO definition of health is “A state of complete physical, mental and social well being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”. This definition is applicable to both women and men. A wholesome health is closely related to family, whereby the Bible lays much emphasis on the roles of both a woman and a man within the context of a family as homemakers. The passage of Proverbs 31:10-31 describes the role of a woman as a leader in providing complete physical, mental and social well being to her husband, family and community. This is an essential aspect of healing ministry. In order to carry out this role she is described as being strong and honorable. Wisdom and kindness is what she portrays. She works hard and above all, she fears the Lord – her maker.
The bible also reveals many exemplary women namely, Rebecca who was a kind woman, Esther who took up the challenge of leadership and delivered her people, Priscilla who worked hard for the church and Ruth who was the ideal daughter-in-law. Elizabeth affirms Mary in taking delight to be the part of God's plans in her life. Mary fulfills her role as a righteous and upright mother who provided the required environment for Jesus as he grew up into a man. In all these examples the women played a crucial role in providing a better quality of life for those around them. In India, Women's health is a systemic problem because of high mortality rates during childhood and reproductive years. A strong correlation exists between illiteracy and women's health whereby the children of illiterate mothers are twice undernourished as compared to the children of literate mothers. A high maternal mortality rate in rural India has been due to lack of access to health care. A lot of crimes against women go unreported. Growing cases of wife beating, dowry deaths and harassment, sexual abuse of women, discrimination and neglect and many such cases are non-issues today. Can we recognize the term “quality of life” as synonymous with women's health which calls for us to listen to His calling to make a huge contribution to the healing ministry wherever we are - be it in the home, at work or in the community? Our role, specifically the role of women in such a context becomes crucial to promote wholesome health and healing.
Points for discussions
1.Are women whom we relate to live a healthy life?
2. What are those factors that hinder her from living a healthy life?
Day 6 - WOMEN AS CHANNELS OF CHANGE IN HEALING MINISTRY
Passage : Matthew 25: 40
Health and healing is holistic where one responds to brokenness in intra, interpersonal, inter-creation, and human-divine relationships. The whole creation- women, men and the rest of the creation participate in this God's mission of restoring wholeness. However, do we really recognize women's contribution in healing ministry? Let us hear some of the voices.
Voice of a girl from Israel (2 Kings 5): I am an unnamed captive girl, who shared the information about the healing resources available in Samaria to Naaman, my master. I am privileged to be part of the healing team and my master was healed from a dreadful disease and he is no more stigmatized, treated as unwanted, and he could continue his service to the nation. I am the channel of change to my master.
Voice of Esther (Esther 2): I am an unlikely heroine, and a captive. Though I am glad that I have been the choice of the king to be the queen, it is painful to be in the situation where I am. Nevertheless, I am blessed that the broken community of Jews could experience healing through me. They could have a new beginning and a new life from the fear and anxiety of death. I realized my inner potentials. I am the channel of change to the Jewish community.
Voice of Mary Magdalene (John 20:1-18): I am an unexpected messenger. Please do not identify me with my old way of living. God has accepted me. I am excited that I carried the message of hope to the rest of the disciples that Jesus is alive. The faith in them was restored back. I am the channel of change to the first disciples of Jesus Christ.
Voice of Virgin Mary (Luke 1:26-38): I am an unwed mother. What a transformation in my body. The savior of the cosmos was within me, literally. I rejoice that God's promise of restoration became a reality through me. Others are the channels of the change; I am the channel of the source of all changes-the divine healer.
Voice of today's woman: No God. I do not want to speak. In the midst of noise of men my voice may not be heard. I prefer to serve silently in the wards, streets, and communities with the wounded, broken, neglected, unwanted, ignored, underprivileged, poor, Dalits, tribal, sick and suffering. Like me there are many… Voice of God: Women! “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers (and sisters) of mine, you did for me…” You are the channels of my love, empathy, care, compassion, and hope. I will reward you…
For further discussion
Do we recognize the sacrificial services of women in our homes, church, institutions and community?
Healing Ministry Week 2014: February 10-16
Office for Health Care
Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India
www.cbci.in; www.cbcihealth.org; www.chai-india.org