“Israel, your head is already covered with wounds, and your heart and mind are sick. From head to foot there is not a healthy spot on your body. You are covered with bruises and sores and open wounds. Your wounds have not been cleaned or bandaged. No ointment has been put on them.”(Isaiah1:5).
This verse from the Bible is not only about the old Israel, but is all about the new Israel also. The world in which we live today is ailing. I think more than 90 per cent of the whole world population is morbid. And I believe the primary duty of the church is to heal this ailing world. The Bible tells us about the question: Who created the world? And it is the Science to describe how the world was created. Both religion and science are two sides of the same coin. It is God who works behind both.
Religion and Science are not to be contradictory but to be complementary. Doctors get the knowledge of medicine from the wisdom of God. It is God who infused healing power or medicinal value into the herbs. The source of all medicine is God.
We see Jesus resorting to many methods to heal the sick who sought his help. He healed many by a single touch (Mark8:25), by a simple word (St. John 5:8, and by using a mixture of saliva and soil (St.John9). He wanted his disciples to use Olive oil as a medium for imparting power of healing (Mark 6:13). I think all the holy sacraments in our church are now rather relevant to the modern humanity than it was before and I believe that it is the mission of the holy church to take this sacraments to the needy and to the deserving.
My humble attempt here is to delve deep into the theological aspects of the healing ministry in the Orthodox Church particularly on the holy healing sacraments-Anointing the sick and Holy Qurbana.
The purpose of the Incarnation of Christ was to redeem the whole humanity from the clutches of Satan and to set the human free from the bondage of sin, disease and death and eventually to place them in paradise by regaining the lost paradise. As part of the economy of God’s salvation, He instituted certain spiritual means to purify the weak and sinful human and to make them holy as God himself has ever been.
The reference to this is seen in Leviticus 20:26 where the Lord has said, “You shall be holy and belong to me, because I am the Lord and I am holy.” This spiritual process of purification and deification is popularly denoted by the word-Sacrament which means that which sanctifies. Though the term is not found in the New Testament, it came into use quite early to describe the visible signs or acts which are means of grace and salvation for the Christians.
‘Salvation’ is probably the most general term used in the Bible for the great gift which men receive by believing in Jesus Christ. (Romans 1:16).
It means not only Freedom from sin and God’s wrath, but also a growth in the knowledge of God (1 Timothy 1:15, Romans5:6, 1 Timothy2:4). The ultimate aim of salvation is nothing but theosis or deification. (Leviticus20:26, 1 Thessalonians 4:3).
Deification is possible only by a spiritual defecation or religious refining of the weak and sinful nature of human beings by way of ritualistic performances. A religious ritual becomes a vital activity when it is done scientifically and in all its seriousness but it becomes a meaningless perfunctory act and a farce, if done with laxity devoid of its true spirit.
In order to acquire the divine nature, one needs to be firmly attached to God. (John 15). If one has to bear spiritual fruit, one is to be filled with and guided by the Holy Spirit (St.John16:8, Galatians 5:22).