I have had a number of close friends with multiple sclerosis (MS). Some are no longer around, others are battling away. It's a sickness about which much is known but for which there is yet no medical breakthrough. It's much more common in cooler climates than in the tropics. Yet it occurs in the Philippines.
One friend who died on 28 September in Ireland was Columban Father Joe Murtagh, ordained in December 1952, and just a few months short of 80. Father Joe spent all his missionary life in Mindanao and retired to Ireland only about three years ago. He had MS for nearly 30 years and it was initially mis-diagnosed. He continued to minister to people as long as he could. When he died at St Columban's, Dalgan Park, Navan, County Meath, some of the kitchen staff from eastern Europe cried their hearts out because of the kindness they had experienced from him, despite the fact that he was in a wheelchair, though he was mobile until near the end.
More than once I have seen persons taking care of sick people being strengthened by their patients, even when the latter need full-time care for everything.
Mark Pickup is a Canadian with MS and a man of faith as this article from the Western Catholic Reporter shows. Mark begins his article thus:
Although my body is broken and wounded by advanced multiple sclerosis (MS), a light of hope in Christ sustains me. I depend upon an electric wheelchair for movement but my dark road still leads to a new horizon. A morning prayer proclaims:
Lord Jesus, you are the rising Sun, the first fruits of the future resurrection. Grant that we may not sit in the shadow of death but walk in the light of life. Christ, King of Glory, be our light and our joy.
He is the future resurrection but I can live in the present basking in his light. Despite increasingly profound disability (only my left arm is unaffected by disease), I know that just as my Redeemer lives, so shall I. Even though my body is being slowly and steadily destroyed, I will be brought forth as gold.
Like Job, I live with the hope that even though I may die, in my flesh I shall be made new to see God as he is.