I’ve been physically sick for a long time. Years of chronic, painful suffering have taken their toll on my once-strong, capable, athletic body. In the process, I’ve learned how to get that gold star in redemptive suffering and cling to Jesus in the resultant mental and emotional anguish. Basically, Jesus as the Divine Physician is my jam.
But hearing His words today, I realize how quick I am to compartmentalize. It’s easy to say, Jesus, this is where I need you! while completely disregarding the other closed-off corners of my heart and soul, rife with just as much sickness as my physical body.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus tries to break through to the Pharisees, referencing the Old Testament prophet Hosea who called Israel “sick.” (Matthew 9:12) God had intended for the Israelites’ faith to purify and heal the surrounding nations who were worshiping idols. Instead, the Israelites became corrupted and “infected” themselves; suddenly they were the ones in need of rescuing and healing.
Jesus reveals himself as the Divine Physician of the New Covenant, here to rescue not just Israel, but every sinner of every nation. He calls out the Pharisees still stuck on the Mosaic Law of offering sacrifices, reiterating the lines from Scripture, “I desire mercy, not sacrifice.” (Matthew 9:13) This sets the stage for healing through mercy and forgiveness as a result of Christ’s self-sacrifice.
Not much has changed since that scene in the Gospel. We might be the greatest sinner on the planet or the most faithful person in town—but each of us is still sick in desperate need of the Divine Physician.
Like the Pharisees who can’t understand their own glaring soul sickness, it’s easy for pride to blind us to our many ailments crying out for divine healing and love. Maybe, like me, you think you’ve let Jesus in, but actually just compartmentalize the parts of your heart “open” to Him.
Yet Our Lord already knows every sickness we suffer:
The hollow ache of comparison, the compulsion of superficial social media approval rates . . .
The suffocating pressure of frenzied schedules and perpetual to-do lists . . .
The weight of the world’s pressures, the worries of relationships . . .
The body and heart aches, the visible and invisible wounds . . .
In all of it, Jesus has come to call us—the sick—to life and healing. And He’s standing patiently by, gently prodding us to open our eyes, open the door, and let Him in with His remedies of light and truth.
Holy Spirit, enlighten our minds to understand the sicknesses we carry. Give us courage to open our hearts, especially in the Sacrament of Confession, that the Healer may bring light and grace to our places of darkness.
Megan Hjelmstad is a wife and mom 24/7 and an Army Reservist in her “spare” time. She’s a bibliophile, tea drinker, sleep lover, and avid admirer of Colorado’s great outdoors. When the writing bug hits, you can find out more about her here.