The Paragon of Health

Couple of clear facts:

1. Our bodily and mental health can be attacked, harmed, even ruined by disease. Good, wholesome, sound, vigorous life: obviously, that’s what we are made for. But on this fallen earth, a battle constantly rages between health and all the forces that jeopardize it.

2. Almighty God wills our health and well-being. He became man and healed sick people. He embraced the ultimate threat to bodily health, namely death, so as to overcome its power. God made man has Personally attained permanent bodily and mental health in heaven. He give us the hope of attaining it, too, when the battle of this pilgrim life is over.

Okay, so these two facts are clear. Where we can encounter controversy, however, is in the area of: In what, exactly, does health consist?

Rod of AsclepiusSome distinctions are easy, like: It is better not to have the flu than to have it. But sometimes we cannot distinguish between health and disease so easily.

For instance: Is being able to get pregnant a disease? Doesn’t seem like it is. But apparently more women take pills for it than for anything else. Is getting old a disease? Well, a lot of people have surgery to try to counteract it.

Is feeling guilty a psychological disease? Maybe sometimes it it. But, of course, more often than not I feel guilty because I am guilty of something.

See what I mean? Defining “healthy” can sometimes involve a great deal of controversy.

We need a “gold standard” of health, so to speak. We need someone whose complete soundness of mind and body provides the example with which we can compare all other cases. We need a flesh-and-blood yardstick of total human health.

Who else can it be, other than the Lord Jesus Himself?

And this helps us in more ways than one. On the one hand, there are plenty of things which some people want to call “healthy,” which Christ certainly never would have touched with a ten-foot pole.

On the other hand, the Lord Jesus—even though He never suffered the ravages of disease or old age—He did voluntarily accept suffering, for the sake of attaining the higher, eternal life. In other words, He has shown us that patiently submitting to bodily suffering—bodily suffering for which no real remedy is available—accepting this is, in its own way, perfectly “healthy.”

It is not “unhealthy” to recognize our bodies’ limitations and the effects that our mortality has on us. To the contrary, to accept the reality that death will eventually come for all of us—this acceptance is consummately “healthy.”

May the good Lord grant us all true health, “health” in the deepest sense—which means union with the gold standard of health, Jesus Christ, crucified and risen.

More on Health

The Son of God labored on earth as a physician. He applied His deft hands to the work of healing the infirm. In the beginning He made us out of moistened earth with the power of His Word. In the fullness of time, He healed blindness and deafness with the same clay and moisture and divine speech.

Why? Why has He opened the ears of the deaf and the eyes of the blind? So that we could believe in Him and live.

Perhaps you have heard something about the controversy between the Dept. of Health and Human Services and the Catholic health-care system. Many people see the business as a matter of religious freedom.

Don’t we also have to see it as a controversy over what health care is? What health is?

Doesn’t ‘health’ = thriving in the truth of who we are made to be? Isn’t health care a matter of imitating and co-operating with the Great Physician Who made us in the first place?

Is it healthy for a woman to poison her body with pills that maker her infertile and inhospitable to new life? What kind of health care is that?

The proponents of universal access to contraception try to characterize it as a “woman’s issue.” But if “pro-woman” health care involves poisoning the womb with chemicals, then I would hate to see what misogynistic health care would involve.

The divine Physician came to help us have a better life. Much better than a dead-end routine of work, eat, sleep, and work again, with occasional recreational sex. Artificial contraception fits into an Orwellian nightmare of dehumanized modernity, not into the beautiful truth of who we are in Christ. The children of God have inherited a better life than what the Department of Health and Human Services wants to envision.

The divine Physician came to us so that we could enjoy eternal health in the Kingdom of purity and light. May He help us all to open our eyes, ears, and lips to behold, hear, and sing His liberating truth.

Revealing All Takes Time

When Christ came to the fullness of age and began the decisive work of His pilgrim life, He faced an enormously complex challenge.

He bore in His human hands the power of God. His Sacred Heart beat with divine love for every soul He encountered. He struck fear into the demons, and He dealt them crushing blows.

It pertained to His mission as a man to reveal His divine identity by His words and works. But His particular challenge, as He started out in His ministry, was that for God to reveal Himself to us is more easily said than done.

It is not that God has trouble expressing Himself. It is that we have trouble understanding Him.

It’s not that He is inarticulate. It is that we are obtuse. We are too quick to grasp and hold on for dear life to little things when He has much bigger things to give.

God bestows every benefit we receive. But the greatest benefit of all is God Himself.

So the Lord Jesus healed and exorcised. He benefitted His beloved people with health and psychological peace.

But He could not allow them to think that this was “it.” He did not come to earth to cure people’s colds, miserable as a cold can make a person. Aching sneezing stuffy head fever can’t rest—a bummer, to be sure. But God did not come to the world to do the work of NyQuil. He came to cure people’s tendency towards sin and death.

So, as we read: He unfolded some of His divine power to manifest His identity and His zealous love. But He had to keep moving, keep pushing, keep lifting everyone around Him to the higher levels of spiritual vigor and communion that lead to the transcendent goal.

Yes, I will heal your diseases. Yes, I will feed your hunger. Yes, I will expel the demons who afflict you. Of course I will do these things. I am your Creator Who made you for health and happiness, and I love you and came to help you.

But no, I will not rest here. No, I will not hang up a shingle as your local wonder-worker and settle down in a little house of my own where you can bring your cripples and your lepers for treatment during the office hours I advertise.

No, I have to march on. My main duty is to the truth.

…This week we begin another year of reading our way through the gospels and the other scriptures of our lectionary. Time marches on.

The Lord has the same challenges with us as He did with the residents of Capernaum. We know Him. We know His word. We know His divine identity. But He has more to reveal. We have not grasped it all. He has added another year to our lives for one reason: to teach us some more.