My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
Soon we will be celebrating Easter, commemorating our risen Lord’s victory over death. We also reflect upon Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice by death on the cross. Jesus surrendered His life, died in the most horrific way,in obedience to His Father’s will to redeem our sins. Jesus’ passion is the greatest testimony of God’s love to us. As Easter is approaching, it is only appropriate for us to examine our conscience, introspect upon our experiences in our life as doctors. How much love have we given to our suffering patients? We recall when Jesus told us about the Final Judgment, where he would assess us on what we did to the least of us (Matthew 25:31-46). He would ask us, “Did you feed me when I was hungry? Did you give me drink when I was thirsty? Did you welcome me when I came as a stranger? Did you cloth me when I was naked? Did you care for me when I was ill? Did you visit me when I was imprisoned?”
Many people call themselves Catholics, and a number of these also become doctors. However, how many of us can truly call ourselves Catholic doctors? How many of us truly live our faith in our life as doctors, serving our patients with tender loving care, helping those who are suffering and marginalized, following Jesus’ teaching which strongly defended and cared for the poor? As Catholic doctors, we must NOT be tempted by materialistic gain. The focus of our service should always be at the interest of the patient we care for. This is what Jesus told us to do, to love and serve one another, just as He loved us (John 13:34).
Also, we have to constantly remind ourselves that no matter how expert we think we are, our knowledge is still limited. Let us not be complacent and arrogant with our medical capabilities. We must acknowledge that at times we encounter cases which cannot be resolved with our current level of knowledge, no matter how hard we try to find the answers. There are times where we simply feel powerless. As followers of Christ, we should always leave our words and actions in the hands of God. At the time of need, we are encouraged to ask God for help (Matthew 7:7), for all things are possible for God (Mark 10:27). We have to have faith in Him, for if we have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will be able to move the mountain (Matthew 17:20). Speaking from my own experiences, I encourage you to always pray to God in every service we provide to others in need. Through the intercession of St. Luke and Raphael the Archangel, patron saints of the doctors, and Mary, Health of the Sick, we give thanks to the Lord for our knowledge and skills to treat the sick and injured, and we ask God to guide and support us in every action we do, particularly in difficult times.
Like Jesus, some of our brothers and sisters have also made the ultimate sacrifice in their duty as doctors. I would like to also take this opportunity to reflect upon their stories, learn from their experiences, and ask you to remember them in your prayers. Among others, we remember especially the work of a Salesian priest and medical doctor Fr. John Lee Tae-Seok, who dedicated himself at the service to the lepers in Sudan until his death from cancer at the tender age of 47. We also remember the story of Dr.EleonoraCantamessa, a 44-year-old good Samaritan who was tragically killed in Bergamo, Italy, while giving first aid to a man who was wounded in the fighting between gangs of immigrants. Seeing an injured person lying on the road, Dr.Cantamessa’s immediate reaction was to stop her vehicle and attend to him. She was also killed by rival gang members who wanted him dead. These two heroes did not stop their work even after realising the severity of the situation they were facing, and knowing that their actions might cost them their lives. It was their life calling to save others, and they truly put the interest of their patients above their own safety. I trulyyearn that these two people inspire your life as Catholic doctors. Ihope you are encouraged to give your all in your service to God, caring of the sick and injured, and help your patients improve their quality of life. My prayers are with you in every step you take. Happy Easter! May God bless all of us and lead us in our practises.
Ignatius Harjadi Widjaja MD DEd
President of AFCMA