Our health depends on many things. We may be born with disabilities or health problems. We may suffer serious long-term health concerns through illness, poor diet or accidents. We may not care properly for our bodies. During war and conflict women may suffer sexual abuse and violence and need special support.
Governments should provide access to affordable health care for all their people, though this often does not happen. But the church also has a responsibility to help maintain good health, often through clear teaching about difficult issues such as sexual health and female genital mutilation. The church is too often silent about these difficult issues. The spread of HIV and AIDS threatens the future of whole communities. In some situations the church could help to provide practical help through providing health centres and training health workers and counsellors. The church can also advocate for the government to provide effective healthcare.
One of Jesus’s priorities was to bring healing – not just spiritual healing but physical healing too. The church should see healing and good health as a priority, both through prayer and in practice.
- Read Mark 5:21-34. While Jesus was surrounded by a large crowd, an important man, Jairus, leader of the synagogue, came and asked him to come urgently and heal his dying daughter. As Jesus hurried to respond, another story unfolds. How do you think the woman in verses 25 to 26 felt about herself ? Can you imagine what her life was like?
- The Jews believed that a woman was considered unclean during her regular monthly flow of blood. By touching Jesus, she would therefore have made him unclean. What risks did she take in being in the crowd and in touching him? Why did she do this?
- Verse 30 is very interesting. How did Jesus know that power had gone out from him? Do we know anyone with the gift of healing who can describe this feeling? Despite the fact that Jesus was in a hurry, why did he stop? Why was it so important to know who had been healed?
- When the woman came to him, what was Jesus’s response? How did he meet all her needs?
- Think of other stories of healing in the Bible? Are they done in private or before witnesses. Do we have faith to use the gift of healing? What can we learn from Jesus about how he used the gift of healing?
- Do women in our country have special health needs?
- Female genital mutilation is practised in a number of cultures, even though forbidden by law. The consequences include severe infections, pain and great difficulties during childbirth. What can the church do to support girls who do not want to undergo female genital mutilation? How can the church speak out in this sensitive situation?
Articles 22, 25 UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights