- May 29, 2013 - 1:29 PM
There are many passages in the Gospel in which Christ turning to a person who is either sick in mind or in body asks a question, and this question is always: Does thou wish to be made whole? And I think, this phrase is important because it implies something which is vaster, more complete than simply restoration of health: a return to the condition that was the sick person’s before illness attacked him. Because very often illness is the result of the way of life which we lead, of our folly, it is the result of heredity, it is the result of outer conditions and this is all within the compass of our situation in a world which from a Christian point of view is a fallen world, or if you prefer another term, a distorted world, a world that has lost its harmony, its wholeness or has not attained it. Whatever way you look at it our world is a broken one.
A thing that has been striking me quite a lot in the last years is this: why does Christ ask a person, Do you want to be made whole? Isn’t it obvious that anyone who is sane will say: Of course I do, - with the impact, perhaps, on the word ‘of course’. Why are you asking a silly question? Who wishes to be ill? And yet, I think, it is a very important question because in terms of the Gospel to be made whole means not simply getting rid of one’s physical illness but of being reintegrated to a quality of life which one did not possess before and which may be given us on condition. The condition being that being made whole, being restored to health even physically means that we must take responsibility for our bodily and mental condition in a way in which we didn’t do it before. To be healed physically is perhaps a small image of being restored to life having come to the brink of death. The life which would have continued within us without this healing act of God would have been a life that gradually deteriorated more and more and would bring us to dying, a gradual disintegration either of our mental condition or of physical condition. And if we are given back a wholeness which we had lost or perhaps which we never possessed before, it means that the life which is ours now after healing is not simply for us to use any way we chose, it is a gift, it is not ours in a way. We were dead, we were dying, we are brought back to a plenitude of life and this plenitude is not ours, it is a gift. So that in terms of the Gospel, as far as I can see it, when Christ says: “Dost thou wish to be made whole?”, He implies: “Supposing I do it, are you prepared to lead a life of wholeness or do you want Me to make you whole in order to go back to what destroyed this wholeness, destroyed you in body and soul?” And this is a question which stands before each patient, although most patients, practically all patients have no idea of the question, and it stands certainly in front of each of us when we want to be healed beyond our physical illness.
There is another aspect of wholeness restored in other situations in the Gospel when Christ says to someone: “Go and sin no more”. I think we must realise that when we speak of healing in Christian terms we do not speak simply of a power possessed by God or by His saints or by people who being neither saints nor God are possessed of a natural gift to restore health for us to continue to live in the way in which we lived before, to remain the same unchanged. God does not heal us in order that we should go back to our sinful condition. He offers us newness of life, not the old life which we have already lost. And the new life which is offered us is no longer ours in a way, it is His, it’s a gift of His, a present. It was Mine to give, take it. And thinking in spiritual terms, it is true. Because what is sin? We define sin all the time as moral infringement but it is much more than this: it is the very thing of which I was speaking, it is the lack of wholeness. When we think of ourselves: I am divided - mind against heart, heart against will, body against all the rest. We are all not only schizophrenic, but schizo-everything, we are just like a broken mirror and so that is the condition of sin: it is not so much that the mirror doesn’t reflect well, it is the fact that it is broken that is the problem. You can, of course, try to take a small piece of it and see what you can see, but it is still a broken mirror. And this brokenness of ours within corresponds to a brokenness in our relationships with other people. We are afraid of them, we are envious of them, we are greedy, what not. So it creates a whole relational sinfulness and indeed it applies supremely to God because it all results from our having lost our harmony with God. The saints are people who are in harmony with Him, nothing more, nothing less, simply that. And as the result of being in harmony with God, then they can be in harmony within themselves and with other people.
And then I want suggest something which you may find difficult to take: then in a way whether one is healed physically or not becomes a secondary thing, not to our relatives, not to our friends but to the person concerned. What matters is the wholeness restored and once the wholeness is restored if together with it goes a physical healing - good, if it doesn’t, it may be as good.
* All texts are copyright: Estate of Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh
Metropolitan Anthony Library
1. Inspiration -Inspired people achieve more in life than those who are `not' inspired. Like a bird, who flies over the fences on the ground unmindful of the fences, inspiration makes me feel I can conquer everything. I sort of shrug off the doubts and hurdles on the path of my dreams. There is an inner force that sharpens my focus on what is to be done and makes me ignore what cannot be done. Even in the worst of times, an inspired person can see options. They never feel insecure.
2. Selfless Contribution – When I give without expecting anything in turn, I feel `powerful'. I feel `self worth'. I feel `I am good'. There is no possibility of insecurity. There is only `My life is worth living'. This makes me search for opportunities to give (When I feel secure, only then I can give without expectations). This is the opposite of `I am scared of giving as I may not have enough for me' (which is insecurity).
3. Improve – Every time I find someone is better than me, I can either feel inferior or I can decide to improve. As I improve I KNOW I am becoming better. This gives me a sense of control over life. Insecurity makes me feel out of control. Hence, improvement is one of the easiest ways of tackling insecurity. After improving, so often I feel it was not worth feeling insecure. I realise this insecurity was a mirage. Ironically, this mirage makes me see what I am capable of. It is a wistful, funny, embarrassing truth and always implementable.
4. Count Your Blessings – This used to be my favorite. There are always some people who are worse off than we are. There are always some people who have much less than what we have got. There are always enough people who are happily willing to exchange what we are complaining about. Yes certainly, things can be better. However, things are already much better than many lives. I used to tell myself, "Don't be greedy. Be content with what you have. And work harder than ever before to get what you want. Don't Complain. Don't Blame. Don't carry excuses." It always used to work. It always used to put me in the proper frame of mind to realise, this is indeed the truth. I would then smile, say a sorry to the creator and carry on."
5. Whole and the role -Ahaa…this is a little mystical one. This is also my current favorite. This is what is working for me `big time' today. I believe all of us are `one'. In this oneness, all of us have a role to play. The way the body is one and all the body parts have a role to play, all the parts are different, yet all of them are important. Similarly, each person belongs to the same force, the one force, the ONE. Each one of us have a role to play. Let's focus on our role and not get concerned about my role being bigger or smaller. Big or small, the role is important. In being insecure, our focus shifts from our roles to `I want that role'. Imagine the tongue wanting the role of the leg and the leg thinking the throat is doing a more important work. There is no iota of truth in that. I am a part of the whole and I will focus on my role. It makes me feel important, valuable and determined.
To sum it up, each one of the above points puts you in the zone of `peace, self worth and performance'. It makes you realise no one can have it all. It makes you realise, no one ever NEEDS it all. It makes you realise there is so much that can be done with what we have, there is no point in being insecure.
Japan with hardly any natural resource is the second biggest economy of the whole world. With no offense to all my friends in Africa, with all the natural resources in the world, their economic and social status today is a tragedy. Be a Japan that we have today, and not the Africa that we have today