7/28/2016 9:00:00 AM BISHOP'S COLUMN The real cure
BY BISHOP EDWARD B. SCHARFENBERGER
What ails you?
I thought I would get right to the point. Something is probably bothering you, isn't it? Please forgive me for being so bold, but don't you get tired of how typical greetings begin: "How are you?" "I'm fine." It's sad to have to begin a conversation with a lie. What if you were really able to tell the truth? "How are you?" "I am not so well, and this is what is really on my mind...."
In wishing you a very blessed and refreshing summer season, I would also like to say that I hope whatever it is that weighs on your mind, that takes away your sense of peace and well-being or that is making you ill, is touched and healed by the real cure: Jesus Christ.
The physical ills that we suffer from range of little pains and aches to major health issues, like emphysema, arthritis, diabetes or cancer -- the things we might call "life-threatening." A lot of other things can threaten our physical health, like emotional disorders or good old-fashioned heartache: the depression that can come from any loss of a loved one or even a yearning for a love that can never be.
Such feelings can affect how we sleep, eat, work and even pray. In fact, whatever pain one might be feeling, physical or in the mind, probably is having some influence on our relationships with others, including God.
Jesus knows our hurt. He knows what is on our minds and damaging our peace of mind. His entire public ministry was devoted to healing and comforting people.
Why? Because the heart of God is full of mercy, and that is where Jesus comes from. In fact, it is the only reason He came: to show mercy to humanity, to give us a break from all that is broken in our lives and in our relationship. He comes to cure us of our ills.
In order to be healed, however, we have to identify the hurt that needs healing. Before He cured anyone, Jesus always asked what it was that needed to be healed. When Jesus asks, "How are you?" we do not have to lie. He wants us to be honest and to tell Him what we need.
Sometimes, we do not know what we really need. I often think that, when we complain, we are not much different from crying babies. I don't mean this as an insult. We all know when something is bothering a young child, but it is not always clear exactly what.
Sometimes, the thing that we are mad about isn't really the thing we are mad about. The rush of anger over being cut off by a stranger in traffic or passed over for some promotion may actually come from a deeper feeling of inferiority or not being respected.
The first thing that Jesus can do for us is to give us the deep assurance that at least He loves and respects us, even if no one else does. He came as a servant of humanity, though He was divine, and took the punishment we deserved -- the punishment due to sin -- so that we could have the reward that He deserved. All the consequences of sin -- loneliness, dejection, even death -- He endured for us so that we could experience God's merciful love and have the gift of eternal life.
The problem is, we don't often realize that we need the gift of forgiveness, of divine mercy. We repress or deny our sinfulness and try to cover it over with pride and and all kinds of masks so that we might appear acceptable and likable.
This does not help. By lying to ourselves, we only make it worse. The way to healing is to admit the hurt, confess the sin and await the mercy of the God of all mercy.
Pope Francis has been reminding us that God never tires of showing mercy, of giving forgiveness. It is we who tire of asking for God's pardon.
Why not take this summer season as a new opportunity to begin a more honest and productive conversation with God? In our down-time, is there room for more God-time? We can begin by asking for His grace and telling Him the truth about ourselves: where we have been, what we are feeling, what we need.
Jesus never rejects even the worst sinner who comes to Him for peace, healing and forgiveness. Whatever is not right with the past does not have to doom our enjoyment of our future. The Savior who rose on Easter and broke out of that grave is strong and loving enough to lift each of us out of the tombs of whatever pain or grief we are living in.