As I sat in the doctor’s office waiting for him to tell me the results of some recent medical tests, I have to confess to you that I was a little scared. Let’s face it, as a typical man, I don’t “do” doctors well! I had put this off and put this off long enough. Now was the day of reckoning. The news was good.
What does it take for someone to get better when he is sick? Well, the first step is recognizing I am sick. But the second step is absolutely necessary if I am ever going to move from sickness to health. By the way, this is true both physically and spiritually.
The second step is the right diagnosis. Not surprisingly, the word “diagnosis” if from two ancient Greek words – dia = from, and gnosis = to know. It’s root meaning is the ability to distinguish or discern. Without the proper diagnosis, the physician will be treating the wrong disease and the patient will remain ill. But the patient has an obligation in this process as well. The patient has to help the doctor by being honest and aware of his own symptoms and he has to be willing to listen to the doctor and follow the prescription for wellness. If this process gets off track at any point then healing will be interrupted and perhaps make the illness worse.
In today’s Gospel Lesson (by the way, happy Name Day to all Anthonys!) our Lord is being the Great Physician of souls by teaching us the Beatitudes. In Luke 6:17-23, St. Luke records His words of spiritual healing for the sicknesses of our souls. But I want to focus on verse 17: “At that time, Jesus stood on a level place, with a great crowd of his disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea and Jerusalem and the seacoast of Tyre and Sidon, who came to hear him and to be healed of their diseases…” They came to Him to HEAR Him and be HEALED.
The truth is that’s what still happens today for those wise enough to seek the Lord. People still come to Him to hear Him and be healed. But now the whole world can come to Him for healing because His Body has spread to the whole planet. And if there are places we’ve missed, we are actively trying to get there.
And just as in the physical doctor/patient relationship, so it is true of us and our relationship to our Great Physician – Jesus. We have to admit our need for healing in our souls and then we have to go to the place where the Doctor is administering His “medicine of immortality.” This “medicine” for our souls may sometimes be bitter on our tongue, but the results are always life-giving and joyous. This spiritual “medicine” makes us free and makes us whole. The truth is this spiritual “medicine” also makes us physically well as well. Ever heard of the “Mediterranean Diet?” The medicine of our Orthodox Faith heals us soul and body and makes us fit for enjoying eternity with Him.
Today, are you regularly making your life available to the Great Physician so He can diagnose just what your soul needs to be whole and happy? Do you see that the “spiritual hospital” The Church is the place where your “symptoms” can be properly discerned and the wisdom of the faith can be prescribed for your healing? Are you regularly seeing your spiritual father for confession and the healing medicine of forgiveness? All of these life-giving medicines sit ready for your healing and wholeness in the storehouse of the Church. Why not increase your access to this storehouse by a lifestyle of faithfulness and daily practice of this healing rhythm of life? Go to church.