Thursday, October 29, 2015
True Sickness in the House
Tomorrow's Gospel brings to light another event that happened in the life of Jesus Christ. This amazing healing of the man with dropsy, in and of itself, is so miraculous it should bring us to faith. What, though, is Saint Luke trying to tell us about the Pharisee and the people sitting around bearing witness to this phenomenon? For me the clue lies in the talk that occurs after the healing.
There isn't much there about the man with dropsy for instance. We don't know if he was a believer, standing in quiet faith waiting for Christ to heal him. We also don't know if he was planted there by the Pharisee to try and trick Jesus into breaking the Sabbath. Those details aren't there. We do know this man did not ask for healing, he just stood in Jesus presence. Jesus heals him after questioning those gathered around if it were lawful. I think by now they were wise enough not to answer at this point, knowing how Jesus had always showed them their hypocrisy. I imagine they were scared to answer.. both in fear that they would have to face their own hypocrisy and that they might lose face in front of those gathered around.
After Jesus heals him, he sends him away. It doesn't say if he praised God. It doesn't say if the healed man even had faith. Just that Jesus sent him away. Then he addresses the real sickness in the room. “Who among you, if your son or ox falls into a cistern, would not immediately pull him out on the Sabbath day?” This was common practice, that if an animal fell into a well they would be free to help it out. They were fine with this. They understood it. Because both their son and oxen were important to them. It benefited them. It was personal. When it came to another one of God's children though, one that was not directly tied to them.. they were unwilling to reach out and give a helping hand.
The true sickness in the room was not the dropsy, though dropsy indeed is a horrible physical ailment. The healing was to bring about an awakening. A moment in which each person in the room would come face to face with both God, in Christ, and with their own hypocrisy. The real sickness was their own inability to show love. We don't know if they came to conversion. In fact, Scripture records that they were dumbfounded, unable to answer his question. He then continues to share some very beautiful parables about the need for both humility and reaching out that helping hand to those who cannot pay you back.
Saint Paul reminds us in the first reading that our conscience should be joined with the Holy Spirit to bear witness to the truth. That is why it is so important for us to form our conscience properly, with God's help, and by studying the scriptures. So what should this event above teach us? That when avarice guides our actions, we can justify many things that we know to be wrong. The men listening to Jesus would have justified not helping a stranger be well, because it did not help them materially or personally. We ourselves often do the same. How often have we seen a beggar and not helped them, because we were worried where the money was going to go? We saw someone on the side of the road who needed help... but we were in a hurry, so we didn't stop.... Or something as simple as, we know someone needs something done... we could have done it.. but you know, there was a game on and we didn't want to miss part of it?
That is what Jesus means for us to learn... to work on our conscience, to form it in light of the Church and it's teachings, to prayerfully seek Wisdom and guidance from the Holy Spirit... so that we never allow our own wants, our own needs to guide us to do or not do something that we know we should be doing, or know we should not be doing. I know I fail at this. Lord help me to grow. Help me to get my own ego out of the way, and allow your Spirit to guide me in all things.
His Servant and yours,