During the present Jubilee Year of celebrating the Lord’s Mercy, our attention is directed to the Spiritual Works of Mercy. This weekend we focus on the one entitled Instruct the Ignorant.
We readily do this in regard to medical issues. When we develop a pain that we’ve never experienced, we see a doctor who diagnoses our situation and offers treatment that hopefully relieves the discomfort that we are experiencing. In this situation, we can readily appreciate that the knowledge and skills of a physician can benefit us.
Spiritually, our human race is ailing. We experience this as individuals in the handicaps with which we have to live. Sooner or later, every person comes to discover that we are not free to do all that we need and/or want to do. In significant ways, we can’t be like people around us. We are all tied down by that which restricts us. Sooner or later, our greatest common handicap, death, comes to all of us. Instinctively, we do not want to die. The spiritual illness that infects all of us comes to expression at times in the lack of harmony that we experience with one another. Individuals and groups experience alienation from one another.
In and through the Church, the Lord offers to all persons a diagnosis of our situation, a remedy for our healing and a guide to spiritual health. Life as we experience it is disordered at times because of sin. Sin is a relational term. At heart, as human beings, we are relational creatures. We are created to live in harmony within ourselves, with others, with the environment and with the Lord. We do not experience harmony at times because we break loving relationships in our attitudes, words, actions and omissions.
At the heart of our Faith is the Good News that in the Life, Death and Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, we are offered the forgiveness of all of our sins and the ability to live in harmony with one another. Through the forgiveness of our sins, we are set free to reverence our own bodies as temples of the Holy Spirit. We are also liberated to experience a communal identity. As individuals, we belong to one another in the Lord. As members of the Body of Christ, we need one another. The Lord is counting on each person both to receive and to extend the support that we all need in order to develop and to use our gifts for the benefit of all.
This is one humble expression of the Christian diagnosis of the human condition. What we do with information to which we have access is crucial. When a doctor diagnoses a physical ailment from which we suffer, if we are to benefit from his/her medical knowledge and expertise, we need to do what he/she prescribes.
As persons who are offered a diagnosis of our spiritual or relational condition through the Church, our challenge is two-fold: 1) to take to heart the Lord’s diagnosis of our spiritual situation and to receive the remedy that He offers; 2) to invite as many persons as we can to experience with us the Lord’s diagnosis and remedy for our spiritual or relational condition.
As in the spirit of prayer we take this two-fold challenge to heart, we will strive to safeguard the dignity of every person. As individuals who reverence ourselves and every other person as the Lord’s temples, we will have what it takes to do our part to promote harmony, justice and peace with one another in each of the groups/communities to which we belong. We will be doing what we can to make the world in which we live more Christlike and caring. May we be open each day to receive the strength that enables us to live in this way.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Fr. Nelson Beaver – Pastor