A good shepherd, not a “miracle worker.” (PE nr 1090 – 2018/04)

It is true that Jesus did a lot of healing but he did not come on earth to start a group of healers or makers of magic potions. There were already too many of them around at the time and they were very successful (Lk 11. 19). If Jesus healed the sick, it was to proclaim a Kingdom, a new community close to people and especially to those who were the most destitute and often rejected by the religious world. Jesus often refused to let people speak about his healing miracles or that he did extraordinary things (Mt 12, 38 – 42), which is often the case of those who practice these gifts so that they might be spoken about. Many of these types of people are false messiahs, whereas when the crowds wanted to make Jesus a king, he withdrew all alone to the surrounding mountains. For Jesus, the most important miracle was the “bread of life” (Jn 6, 58) and in verse 66 we read that many abandoned him. Let us ask ourselves therefore, what can I do when I am in the presence of sick people, those who are starving and excluded from society? Speaking personally, I do not pray for rain (those who act as rainmakers often observe nature closely such as hyperactivity in a termite mound, a sure sign of approaching rain). I encourage people to prepare their fields when the time for the rainy season is approaching rather than hanging around the bars. I also encourage them  to plant vegetables (peas, lentils, beans, etc.) that enrich the soil, to reforest and not to plant only maize (when I bless seeds, I always make sure that people have also included some cassava plants as they are very drought resistant). When I am called to the home of a sick Christian, no matter what kind of illness even mental ones they are suffering from, I believe that they are loved, and that I have to listen to them. I administer the sacrament of the sick surrounded by the family and community of the sick person and I invite all those present, not only me, to place their hands on the head of the sick person because he will feel better and I do not want to pass myself off as a miracle worker. This means that each one present can ask him or herself, what sort of gifts have I received and how am I going to use them to be close to everyone in my community and in my neighbourhood when “the Padri” is not there?

Extract from a letter written in Swahili to the Christians of Iboja in 1998




Georges Paquet

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