Fr. Kevin’s Column 2/14/2021

Dear friends of God,
Happy Valentine’s Day!

 

Hopefully we are all treating our loved ones to something lovely during this time when we celebrate passion. Those we love are spouses and partners, family and friends. This day of passion, even though it is not a Christian feast, is a reminder that we need to expand our hearts with love and compassion for those to whom we entrust our lives. Our expanding hearts need to continually grow to include all of our sisters and brothers in the world, and even creation itself. Our Catholic Christian faith challenges us to grow in our passion for the human family. That is the example that Jesus has given us and calls us to live out as we take up our cross and follow after him. Jesus has set a pattern for how to be his follower. It is a life of love for the Father and of love for our neighbor. Love of God and love of neighbor are forever tied together. As humans we all suffer, and the love that is placed within us by God calls us to deep empathy for one another and our brothers and sisters in the human family.

 

The saintly and very human Dorothy Day put it this way in her book On Pilgrimage:

 

Love and ever more love is the only solution to every problem that comes up. If we love each other enough, we will bear with each other’s faults and burdens. If we love enough, we are going to light that fire in the hearts of others. And it is love that will burn out the sins and hatreds that sadden us. It is love that will make us want to do great things for each other. No sacrifice and no suffering will then seem too much.

We can think of our suffering as woundedness. Think of when Jesus was raised from death after the crucifixion. He had a glorified body (whatever that might be, time will tell when we die and share fully in Christ’s resurrection), but he still had the wounds on his hands, feet and side. It is a reminder that our woundedness is a part of who we are in life and in death. Psychotherapist Dr. David Richo made this suggestion that we might want to ponder in its wisdom: “Our wounds are often the opening into the best and most beautiful part of us.” If we are open to transformation, God can take our wounds, those parts of our lives where we suffer, and shows us the path of deeply loving our neighbor as our own wounded self. Like Jesus’ broken body in the Eucharist, our pain is meant to be transformed for the life of the world. Father Richard Rohr often says that if we don’t give God the room to transform us and make our hearts more spacious through the wounds of our life, we can easily become cynical, negative and bitter. In our Gospel from Mark this weekend, we hear about Jesus touching and healing a leper without hesitation. The leper knew he was wounded: his skin couldn’t lie. Everyone knew the lepers, even from a distance. Society was afraid of them and labeled them sinners. Jesus coming in contact with a leper and healing the man was a sin. Jesus could heal the wounds of the leper, but the people still bore the woundedness of hate. The sad truth is that it is those who aren’t aware of their own woundedness often bring the most suffering to others. Christianity is about each of us being transformed into our wounded and loving Christ. We have too many Christians walking about as cynical, negative and bitter women and men who easily forget the Gospel call to love in both our suffering and joyful moments of life. This is why we come to the sacred season of Lent. This forty day opportunity to repent and to acknowledge our woundedness and grow in our love of God and neighbor as we seek repentance, metanoia: going beyond our thinking and putting on a new mind. We might even say we are putting on the mind of Christ, our wounded healer.

Much love,
Fr. Kevin