“And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction.” (Matthew 9:35 ESV)
Matthew, the evangelist, shows us how the ministry of Jesus had more than just one aspect. He was not just a healer, not just someone interested in people's physical health, but he was also interested in their soul (Mt 16:26; 6:33). Moreover, it can justly be said that the care of souls was paramount for Jesus , and that the care of the body was a work that accompanied and confirmed the first. Furthermore, the restoration of the health of the soul would bring about a total restoration of the body, not only for a time, but for all eternity, by the promise of resurrection for all those who, by dying in faith, lose their body.
Understanding this helps us to apreciate better what the task of the Chaplain of an institution is about. A chaplain is a pastor who watches over the spiritual health of all the people who are part of a particular institution and who works alongside a congregation (Hospitals, Rehabilitation Centers, Schools, etc.). A chaplain is someone who is more concerned about the eternal affairs than the temporary ones. For this reason, the work of the chaplaincy is not about mere social action, fellowship or psychological containment (there are other people who dedicate themselves to this), but its service focuses on the preaching and teaching of the Word of God, instrument by which God created and sustains all things (Jn 1). Therefore, a chaplain is someone who presides over the religious services of the institution with an emphasis on preaching, who prays for and with members of the community, who is available to answer their questions about God and to offer divine comfort to those who require it. And above all, he is someone who directs people's minds and hearts to Christ and his gifts of forgiveness, life and salvation, and who serves so that people are truly benefited by them. For all this, the north of the chaplain will always be to preach the Word so that his listeners seek communion with God in the sacraments.
In this way, in the context of the church, any institution that serves the purposes of serving the care of the body with mercy, is born of another previous institution that is primarily responsible for the care of the soul (and not the other way around ). This is the reason why the area of chaplaincy is fundamental in each of the institutions that belong to the church and therefore it cannot be seen as secondary. Because the main task of the church continues to be the faithful preaching of the gospel for the eternal salvation of all who believe and the works of mercy are an evident result of the temporary fruits that this preaching has produced in the faithful who have believed in that Word, and that now love their neighbor, just as Christ himself first loved them.
As a colleague once said: "mercy is the gateway to the kingdom of God." Because God wants to be known as a merciful God, who cares so much about our physical but especially spiritual health, and that is why He sent His divine Son to be born as a true man, so that through Him the gates of heaven they can be opened once more and forever, for every human being who believes this. Or, can there be someone in this world with such perfect love that is only interested in sacrificing himself for the benefit of another, serving without expecting reward, and loving without conditions? Certainly no one, but only God. All honor and glory be to Him, in the persons of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, for His eternal mercy. Amen.
Rev. Pablo D. González
“Betesda” Integral Rehabilitation center
Los Peumos 4265, La Florida.