Visit the sick

By Rev. Fr. Eva Chuma Nnamene

The next corporal work of mercy is "to visit the sick". Our point of departure, before we start looking at sickness, is to note that the human person who has possibilities of falling sick is a composite being of mind and body. In philosophical thoughts, we might be thinking about "matter and form", or "body and soul", and so on.

For some Greek philosophers, Plato, for one, the soul is a spirit, and it makes use of the body. Some thinkers even derogatorily think that the body like is car, and the soul is the driver. Funny. In Scholastic thoughts, however, the human being is not a body different from a soul, or a soul that uses the body.

It is rather a body united to a soul. In other words, man is a composite being of body and soul, or body and mind. To talk about sickness which is the state of being sick, or being ill, or to have ailment, is to have a breakdown in this composite being.

However, some sicknesses can affect one or two of the components of this composite being. Some sicknesses affect the body, some affect the mind, and some others are psychosomatic because they affect both mind and the body. But then, the truth is that whatever affects one side has direct or indirect effect on the other.

This breakdown may be caused by infections that are bacterial, fungal, viral and so on, depending on their classifications. They may also be caused by just the malfunctioning of the mind and the body as a composite system. Some causes of sickness could be stress. Some sicknesses are caused by the tear and wear of the functional body.

For instance, someone who tills the land regularly (onye ike kete orie) has more chances of suffering from hyena than someone who does not. Some sicknesses arise in us because of how we live - this is where sickness might be associated to sin; and some might come upon us or vary in their intensities in us because of our body composition.

For instance, the prolonged and unhealthy use of nicotine can cause tuberculosis in one person, and impaired reproductive system in another, depending on their body makeups and antioxidants.

Much as sickness is natural, and can happen to anybody, the different sicknesses that we have, have their causes and symptoms. If one tries to avoid their causes, chances are that the person may avoid being sick - to some extent.

That is why those in health system hold a lot educative programmes to enlighten people on the causes and symptoms of illnesses, and possible ways of avoiding illnesses. Of course, a popular medical slogan is that "prevention is better than cure". The truth is that a stitch in time saves nine.

The fifth corporal work of mercy calls us to visit the sick. There are various reasons why we should visit the sick. Perhaps, the first reason is because of the common denominator we all share in front of sicknesses: we are all prone to sickness; and sickness is natural.

It can befall any of us. Remember the golden rule (Matthew 7: 12). What is more, Jesus calls us to visit the sick (Matthew 25: 36). Moreover, the Igbo proverb says that the salutation of a sick person is not provision of medicine to the person, but it is medicinal.

It has healing effects on the sick. It is sign of "pure and undefiled religion in the sight of God" (James 1: 27). Let us visit the sick.

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