Prof Paul John Isaak
In the Gospel of Matthew 9, Jesus is walking onwards and is surrounded by the crowds: a desperate father has begged him to come to the aid of his daughter who is dying. While he is on his way, another encounter takes place: a woman who has been suffering from an issue of blood for many years makes her way through the people; her physical condition is serious, and in addition, it forces her to limit her family and social interaction.
The woman does not call out to Jesus, she does not speak, but she comes up behind him and dares to touch him. She has a very clear idea, “If all I want is that he touch me, and I shall be healed.” In desperation, there is no time for endless long prayers, but a decisive word or action: just one small act of being touched, and on the basis of that I open myself with determination, or I dare say I shall overcome and be healed and survive. Yes, in the age of Covid-19, we have to hold onto three pillars: Faith in God, faith in medicine so that such medicine touches our bodies and goes down in our sick bodies while we remain determined to be healed, and we are convinced that we want to be healed. In self-determination, we say we shall not give up, but shall survive.
And behold, Jesus turns, looks at her or him and reassures her/him: Your faith based on the three pillars had obtained healing. Not only physical health, but Jesus’ gaze brings about an encounter with God's love as the Healer God. Take heart, daughter or son; your faith has made you well, and now your soul, your body, your mind, your total composure as a human being is fully functioning in the process of healing.
This episode from Matthew's Gospel opens up an unexpected perspective for us too: God is always on God’s way towards us, while we are ourselves engaged to take vaccinations and medicine and by self-determination saying to ourselves: We shall win. We are now all facing the deadly sickness of Covid-19. The whole Church is facing it. All Christians and people of other faiths are facing it, and all families are facing it in the entire mother earth without any exceptions. What shall we do?
Today, Jesus says to us too: Take heart, daughter or son. You see, the whole secret is in the following: come forward to God and touch or pray to God. Come forward and trust in the healing of modern medicine and vaccinations against Covid-19. Come forward and touch your own inner self. In that act of touching is the healing: son, daughter… have faith in God, have faith in the use of medicine, and take vaccinations as provided at clinics and hospitals… have faith in yourself…you shall be healed.
This certainty also allows us to bring the message of healing by tenderly ‘touching’ those who are suffering, those sick with Covid-19, to touch their hearts when we as the people of God engage in prayers for healing. Not in endless and loud prayers, but prayers that are open to the assurance in God, in medicine, and inner strength.
But what about those who died while suffering from Covid-19? You see, we cannot avoiddeath because it remains a constant companion. But death does not defeat the human will, but gives each person's life its true meaning. In death and in life, we remain the victors. Covid-19 shall kill some of us, but we shall not all be killed. Ultimately, the human spirit of daring and experiencing and seeking solutions to make Covid-19 shall arrive. Thus, our pain, our tears and our devastations are not permanent. We have something deep inside ourselves: We shall survive, despite a minority succumbing to Covid-19. In short, death and the grave has not the finality of sting. There is comfort and life beyond the grave, and victory in the creator God. Death is not the final word, but always life. Thus, our life dictates that life is absolutely valuable, more than anything else here on mother earth. Therefore, us Namibians shall continue to take vaccinations against Covid-19, and promote robust and well-functioning health systems. We shall be engaged in building such strong health and medical care systems in our beloved country Namibia so that Covid-19 will be no more.
Thus, let the elders and deacons, the pastors, the politicians and community activists and businesspeople and scientists and our beloved medical people, as well as our mothers and fathers and children all say: Yes, we shall overcome Covid-19.