Today is Sexagesima Sunday, the second of the three Pre-lenten Sundays. The three Sundays, such as Septuagesima, Sexagesima and Quinquagesima, are the transitional Sundays from Epiphany to Lent, when we begin to focus on the Easter en route Lent and Passiontide because the way to Christ’s glory is His suffering.
The period, also known as “Gesimatide”, obviously because of the “Gesima” in the respective names of the constituent Sundays, is a time of preparation. The Scripture lessons appointed for these Sundays have the purpose of preparing our minds and hearts for the spiritual undertaking, which lies before us in the season of Lent – our spiritual pilgrimage, our spiritual journey with Jesus to Jerusalem.
Sexagesima is derived from the Latin word for sixtieth and refers to sixtieth day to Easter, although it actually falls on the fifty-sixth day.
The Collect for Sexagesima Sunday indicates certain points about divine healing, namely:
• Jesus healed the sick and restored them to wholeness of life.
• The world is presently in anguish and miserably sick.
• God can heal the world, which includes both men and nations.
Consequently, the Set Readings for the day for Holy Communion also relate to healings from the Lord. The Old Testament passage (2Kgs 5:1-14) is the story of the healing of Naaman. Naaman was a great man, but leprous. With all his greatness and connections, Naaman could not get his healing. It was only by God’s grace, which he accepted by act of faith and submission that he was eventually healed. The Epistle (James 5:13-16a) is James’ prescription on how to receive spiritual healing; and the Gospel (Mk 2:1-12) is the record of the Lord’s healing of a paralytic.
The lesson for the day is, therefore, clear: God heals. God describes Himself in the Bible as the Lord that heals (Jehovah Rapha, Exod. 15:26). This is a clear way of associating Himself with healing or relating healing to whom He is and what He does. It reveals God’s disposition to healing. It is not only that it is God’s will and nature to heal; it is also His name. It is whom He is and what He does, which He is also much capable of. God is Almighty and able to heal. With God, nothing is impossible, and no sickness is incurable.
Healing was, also, a significant aspect of Jesus ministry and the Apostles. There are a total of 21 personal healing miracles in the Gospels, netting out the duplicates. They not only confirm the message, but also show us that we too can be healed. The healings in the Bible reveal the heart of God. God is compassionate, and has not changed. He still acts in love in healing.
Healing ministry is not confined to Jesus and the Apostles. Paul taught that the Holy Spirit invests some believers with the gift of healing. (1 Cor. 12:8).
Reading the Book of Acts makes it clear that early believers saw people being healed and expected healing when they asked for it. And from church history, we see that the belief that God answered prayers for healing was taken for granted. We can ask for healing and expect a positive outcome.
Finally, several points need to be noted about sickness and divine healing:
• Sickness is not only in body, but also in mind and spirit. There are different conditions and attitudes of men, which can as well, be described as sickness. Nations and societies can also be sick. However, God can heal all manners of sickness.
• Causes of sickness differ – sin, carelessness, fate, genetic, etc., – and will ordinarily need to be diagnosed for treatment and prevention.
• The cause and extent of a sickness are not necessary for divine healing. God can heal any sickness no matter the cause or how long it has stayed even if it has unknown cause and is from birth.
• Divine healing is a divine gift and is to be received by faith. Its administration is not confined to any method, and does not exclude medical treatment.
• The Venerable (Dr) Princewill Onyinyechukwu Ireoba, FIMC, CMC, is the Rector, Ibru International Ecumenical Centre, Agbarha-Otor, Delta State. https://ibrucentre.org. firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com)