While traveling in the district of Decapolis, Jesus meets a man whose life is a mess or so it would seem. Two things are wrong, both involving communication: The man cannot hear and he has a speech impediment. We know the rest of the story and how Jesus’ deed of healing was spread far and wide.
But life is messy far beyond the real or the physical, be it deafness or a speech defect. Our lives are messy at the psychological level as we struggle to deal with our complex emotions that tend to run riot. Our lives are messy at the spiritual level as we deal with temptations toward the big capital sins of pride, lust, greed, anger, laziness, gluttony and envy. Those who have their lives all put together are seldom seen because they are so few. We all need redemption and healing at a variety of levels. And the good news? The church must be home for all of us.
Pope John Paul II in his World Day of Peace homily of 1985 wrote: “The church, which carries on Christ’s work and dispenses his redeeming grace, has precisely as her purpose the reconciling of all individuals and peoples in unity, fraternity and peace.” What peace the deaf mute man must have experienced through the healing touch of Jesus.
We require courage if we are to let the God who is with us liberate us and fill us with joy … it (courage) is the virtue we most urgently need in the church today (6).
Isaiah the prophet, deeply aware of how frightened the human heart can be, cries out: “Be strong, fear not!” Our world is not a safe place. Wars are a constant reality; violence in our streets is a daily happening; injustices of every sort fragment communities. How can the heart not be afraid in such an environment? And yet, the prophet wants us to focus on the nearness of God and the mighty deeds that God can do in those who believe. The courage here is grounded in faith. Not faith in our chariots and horses, our bombs or missiles, but faith in God’s design for peace and justice. It does take courage and strength to build the kingdom.
The point of religion is to point us to God who is the point of everything (1).
The letter of James speaks of our adhering to Christ in faith, the Christ who is the central point of our Christian life. With him, we are in union with the Father; with him, we experience the Holy Spirit. If such is the case, let us show no partiality.
Questions for reflection
1. What role does courage play in your life?
2. How do you deal with messiness? Your own and that of others?
3. What is the point of religion?
Bishop Morneau is the auxiliary bishop of the Green Bay Diocese and pastor of Resurrection Parish in Allouez.