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Godzdogz

The blog of the Dominican student brothers at Blackfriars, Oxford.

Built on the four pillars of our Dominican life – preaching, prayer, study, and community – Godzdogz offers many resources for exploring the Catholic Faith today.
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Saturday after Ash Wednesday

Saturday, February 21, 2015

The call of God demands a change of life. Are we willing to accept this demanding invitation?

(The Gospel of the day: Luke 5:27-32.)

In today’s Gospel we are reminded that we have weakness and faults in a real sense, and that the Christ the Physician is perfectly qualified to not only treat the aliment, but also alleviate and root out the cause. 

It is not those who are well who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the virtuous, but sinners to repentance.’

 In this passage, Jesus is basing his medical metaphor upon Hellenistic moral teaching as a way of revealing how our health relies upon us addressing the sinful nature that we possess in a reasoned way. The Hellenistic teaching holds that the philosopher is the doctor, vice is sickness, and virtue is health. Dio Chrysostom in his Discourses shows us clearly how this thought undergoes a unique transformation in Christian thought, ‘Jesus is the doctor, sickness is sin, and health is righteousness.’

 What then does this image mean for our Lenten journey?

If Jesus is the physician who calls the sick to health, we too should try to imitate the physician, in being where the sick are. The truly righteous therefore are not separated from sinners, as healthy people seek to protect themselves from the diseased. But rather, we must imitate Jesus the Physician for others, not shy of serving others, not being a person that is inaccessible and not available. But crossing the threshold in order to serve and in doing so heal our own faults; the good physician cannot be truly competent in his occupation without practicing his art. Nor does he merely treat the patient’s symptoms alone, but also tries to unearth the cause. The same can be said of our sin, we constantly try to address the sin itself, and may never address honestly the cause or the thought behind the action. Only then can we be truly healthy.

St Gregory the Great gives us great advice in maintaining this form of Christian spiritual health:

 ‘Blessed is the healthy mind, therefore, that passes the time of its pilgrimage in chaste sobriety, and does not linger in the things it has to walk through, so that, as a stranger rather than the owner of its earthly home, it does not lack human affections, and yet rests on the divine promises.’ (Sermon 49- 1-3)

The ultimate divine promise is the resurrection that stems from His Passion. We must therefore feel honoured and joyful that we are called to such transformation, despite our own unworthiness. This Lent then, let us challenge our action towards others; focus our minds on ways in which to transform our own failings. Dealing not with the symptoms of our fault, but reflecting accurately upon its cause, like a good reasoned Physician. We may make mistakes, but it is the overall process in a life of Virtue, which heads towards God’s Providence that makes us truly flourish and empowers us to follow Him who calls the weak.

St. Gregory finishes his sermon with these words:

 ‘For no season, dear friends, requires and gives this fortitude more than Lent, when, by observing special strictness, we acquire a habit that we must persevere in.’ 

Br Christopher Pierce O.P.

Br Christopher Pierce O.P.

Comments

Brenden commented on 21-Feb-2015 10:25 AM
Thanks Br Chris, this is great.

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