Politicians could learn from desire of Jesus to heal all sick people
Thought for the weekend
Today is the Feast of the Epiphany, the manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles, which has its origin in the visit of the Magi, or Wise Men, to the baby Jesus in a stable in Bethlehem.
The Wise Men were Gentiles from a distant land in the East. They brought gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh for the baby. And they bowed down and worshipped the infant Messiah.
Here, we see that Jesus came not only for the Jews like the shepherds in the fields, but for the people of all religions and none. As the infant Jesus would grow into manhood, he would carry that message of universal love, repentance, forgiveness and salvation to all mankind.
The Wise Men and the infant in the manger in Bethlehem summarise a key element in the Christian religion from the beginning - namely, that Jesus, though born a Jew, devoted his life and ministry to the well-being of all people.
Here in Northern Ireland, on this Epiphany Day, we would do well to take this work to heart: Jesus was God's gift to all mankind.
Epiphany calls you and me to acknowledge and celebrate God's indiscriminate love for everybody - for the poor and destitute, the sick and bereaved, for the powerful and the lowly, for the despised and rejected, the broken and outcast. Yes, the message of the birth of Jesus is that he came for everyone, to reveal the compassion, kindness and love of God for all.
Today, we are challenged to reflect that love as we live out our daily lives. Here in Northern Ireland that means digging beneath the banalities of selfish interest and thinking about ways in which we can make things better for others.
That must apply particularly to the importance we attach to those who are sick and who endure unremitting pain and suffering.
Accident and emergency units in our hospitals are full to overcrowding. Doctors and nurses are stretched beyond their tolerable limits. Those needing urgent medical attention are placed on long waiting lists, without any assurance of remedy or relief!
In my judgment, much responsibility for the continuation of this immense crisis lies with the two main political parties, the DUP and Sinn Fein. If they had the will, they could devise a scheme whereby proper care of the sick in all parts of the community could be achieved. That care is not being provided at the moment.
The DUP and Sinn Fein should be in the forefront of such care of the sick, vulnerable and dying. That would be responsible political action in practice. Besides, the preservation and enhancement of life should be the top priority of every politician and political party. There is no defence for political inaction which results in neglect and disregard for the sick and those unable to speak for themselves.
Today, we remember that Jesus came for all people. The Wise Men acknowledged this great truth when they offered their gifts to the infant Messiah and bowed down and worshipped him. Today, we remember that Jesus came to bring healing to the sick whose lives were broken by illness. Let us continue that same healing for those who are broken and in urgent need of wholeness.