Scripture: Matthew 8:1-17
Key verse: (3) “I will; be clean.”
Reflection: For a time in my ministry I was blessed to participate in a medical mission in Fort Liberte, Haiti. Jerusalem Baptist Church operates the clinic in that community. It is sustained by physicians who come at least monthly from the States to serve for a week. My job was as an orderly. It was overwhelming. We saw almost 1,000 patients in a week. People came with a wide range of ailments, from the chronic problems of hypertension, cholesterol, and illnesses affiliated with HIV/AIDS, to acute cases of cancer, or injuries sustained in the daily grind of life. The demand was never-ending. The hardest moment of the day was telling those who had been waiting since dawn that we were finished for the day. The last day of the clinic was the hardest. We could only hope that those seeking healing would find it from the next group to come. There were only so many hours in the day.
Today’s reading from Matthew gives us a glimpse into the never-ending demands placed on Jesus in his earthly ministry. It begins with a leper seeking healing; then a Centurion whose servant is paralyzed, then Peter’s mother-in-law lying sick with a fever, then many who were possessed by demons, and more who were sick. Can you imagine how overwhelming that must have been? Yet time and time again, Jesus heals, Jesus cleanses, Jesus saves all who come his way.
In recent wakes the waves of tragedy have continued to roll across our world with increasing force. Hurricane Harvey devastating Houston and the Texas Coast, then Irma rolling across Florida. The Caribbean, including Puerto Rico and Fort Liberte, Haiti and our partners in Remedios, Cuba hit twice by monster storms. Then an earthquake killing hundreds in and around Mexico City. And this week, the worst mass shooting in American history; at least 59 killed, hundreds more wounded — the latest in an epidemic of mass shootings in our nation. The sadness and pain seem never-ending. At what point do we just shut down to it all and become numb?
As the body of Christ in the world, shutting ourselves off to this pain is not an option. By the power of the Spirit we are called to keep the faith, to keep showing up, keep healing, keep cleansing, keep casting out demons of despair and sowing seeds of faith and hope and love. We keep doing this not only where the media draws our attention in acute tragedies, but also in those places where the pain is chronic; in Grier Heights, at the Urban Ministry Center, at the Men’s Shelter, at the Crisis Assistance Center. We keep showing up. We keep embodying God’s love in Christ. This is our call. Note this is in the plural; none of us as individuals can sustain such ministry, but together, empowered by the Spirit we can and we will.
Prayer: Give us strength, O Lord, to keep on keeping on; to be about your ministry of mercy and justice and love. In the midst of a world too often defined by insatiable need; make us instruments of your love which satisfies every need. In Christ’s name we pray. Amen.
Author: Joe Clifford
[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].