15th Annual General Meeting & Scientific Conference Association of Catholic Medical Practitioners.
Homily by Archbishop Ignatius A. Kaigama, at Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria, Abuja, 2nd July, 2021
I commend you members of the national Association of Catholic Medical Practitioners for taking time off your busy and demanding duties to come together to reflect from the point of view of faith on your call to service as medical practitioners. Jesus often retreated to a quiet place from time to time, even in the midst of people crowding upon him seeking cures and healing. Your convening for this conference is an act of faith, because you are acknowledging that with all your scientific and medical knowledge you are still dependent on the Supreme Being, the Creator, Omnipotent and Omniscient.
Among the gifts St. Paul mentions in 1 Cor. 12 is the gift of healing (v.9). Your calling as doctors is a special vocation to be at the service of humanity; to be part of the solution to the problem of pain in the world. People have great confidence and faith in you, because of your medical skills, so, you must not fail them as doctors, just as we priests must not fail people who trust us to show them the way to eternal life.
The longing for healing today is even more than it was when Jairus the Synagogue official, a man of considerable standing in the Jewish community approached Jesus and asked Him to heal his very sick daughter and the woman with an incurable hemorrhage for 12 years was left physically weak, religiously ostracised, socially isolated and economically drained. She was as good as dead! In faith she sought secretly to touch Jesus’ garment. Right there and then she received healing.
On account of our complex society today there is so much need for psychological, physical and even environmental healing. Nature is itself wounded by environmental degradation, through consumerism and global warming. Interpersonal relationships are wounded by the fatal activities of terrorists, kidnappers, bandits, etc. Humanity is itself a wounded humanity.
It is expected that you exercise your profession steeped in faith and spirituality. The Hippocratic Oath you take as doctors is to protect, promote and preserve life.
Even though equipped with medical or scientific knowledge, we still find our inadequacies in healing the bodily wounds or safeguarding life. The Corona-19 Pandemic is one such medical mystery that seems to have generated divided opinions. The doubts about the authenticity of the vaccine, shows that medicine with faith practice must go together.
St. Luke was a writer; preacher and a medical doctor (cf. Col. 4:14; Phlm. 24). Through him we have got to know of the beautiful stories about Jesus. He tells the story not in an abstract manner, but down to earth to help his readers see how to advance in faith and good works.
The stories in Luke’s Gospel are about faith that should bear fruits in good works towards the poor, the sick, the oppressed, the outcasts, people with disabilities and sinners. Faith must bear fruits of goodness, generosity, compassion and social and economic justice.
Faith without good works seems to characterize our practice of religion in Nigeria. Like Jesus, we, and especially our leaders, must be concerned with the poor, the oppressed, widows, orphans, the ill, the senior citizens, children and those with disabilities rather than imitating the West by pressing for abortion as a fundamental human right above even education, health care, employment, etc.
Dear Catholic medical practitioners, let the light of your faith shine in all you do. You must remember that seven of history’s most brilliant scientists were Catholics:
1) Louis Pasteur – Inventor of Pasteurization was known for praying the Rosary. “I pray while I am engaged at my work in the laboratory….Do not let yourself be tainted with a barren skepticism…”
2) Gregor Mendel was an Augustinian monk and pioneer of genetics.
3) St. Giuseppe Moscati – Pioneer in Treating Diabetes with Insulin
“In all your works, look to Heaven, to the eternity of life and of the soul, and orient yourself then much differently from the way that merely human considerations might suggest, and your activity will be inspired for the good.”
4) Louis de Broglie – Nobel Prize winner in Quantum Mechanics was a devout Catholic
5) Fr. Georges Lemaître – Father of the Big Bang Theory
6) Jerome Lejeune – Discovered Cause of Down Syndrome. He said, “Enemies of life want to destroy the child, “the child who has never been seen; the child who is not yet known or loved ….; who has not yet seen the light of day, who cannot even cry out in distress.”
7) Galileo Galilei – the Father of Modern Astronomy remained a practicing Catholic until the day he died. His own daughter became a nun.
Pope Francis urged Catholic Doctors during the International Federation of Catholic Medical Associations in Rome for Consecration to the Sacred Heart of Jesus on June 22, 2019, to remember how Jesus healed:
“You are called to give care with delicacy and respect for the dignity and physical and psychical integrity of the person….You are called to listen with attention, to answer with suitable words that accompany the gestures of care making them more human and therefore also more effective. You are called to encourage, to console, to raise up, to give hope.”
Please, continue your immense contributions to humanity by giving hope to the sick, the vulnerable and the marginalized.