I want to continue exploring Wilkinson’s “The Bible and Healing.” In the first in this series I wrote about “Health as Life.” He came that the sheep ‘may have life, (health) and have it more abundantly’. Life here derives from the Greek word zoe. Now we come to health as blessedness. This is built on the understanding that s/he who enjoys the blessedness that comes from having the characteristics highlighted in the Beatitudes (first called this by Ambrose of Milan in the 4th century) will enjoy health at its highest level.
Wilkinson states ” If it is true that we have in the Beatitudes a definition of health in terms of blessedness, then the qualities of a healthy person are very different from what we might expect…a complete reversal of our earthly values and standards, and today the person whose blessedness they portray would be regarded as down-trodden, persecuted, under-privileged and even psychologically abnormal. The meaning of the Beatitudes is that blessedness and health come from within and not from without. The important thing is not the human environment but the human heart. As someone has truly said, ‘The heart of the human problem is the problem of the human heart’. Here the term ‘heart’ is not used in its physical sense but in the sense of the seat of the whole of human life, physical, intellectual and spiritual. When we speak of health as life and of health as blessedness we are really saying the same thing, for the blessedness of the Beatitudes is but another expression for eternal life. Both blessedness and eternal life belong to God and through Jesus Christ His Son they are offered to us that we might share in the blessedness and life of God which is the purpose for which we were created.”