Mother earth cannot be healed unless … we first heal ourselves by forgiving others
Once again, we are presented with the issue of prophecy. But, this week, we are given the purpose of prophecy through the Gospel message: to bring healing wherever we go.
Our First Reading opens by politely describing a “fight” between a priest and a prophet. Amos is rudely sent back to Southern Israel to earn his “bread.” Amos reveals for us that, sometimes, people are not willing to be healed because they can’t see they are sick or wounded.
Perhaps this explains why so many of us run into crisis before realising that we are sick. An alcoholic is usually sick for a long period before admitting they are sick.
However, leading up to the admission of “sickness” they often cause great harm to others.
So, today, our readings have a two-fold purpose:
1) to be agents of healing to others – allowing God’s gentle power to touch others through us;
2) to reflect on where we need healing – a task that requires humility and honest friends.
In summary, the readings really teach us that as we help others find healing, we ourselves are touched by God’s healing power.
Something of this came through the words of Pope Francis when he visited Kenya in 2015: he spoke directly to the many youths who have been hurt in their families as children:
“…How can they move beyond this?” That is why families are so important. Protect the family! Defend it always. … There is only one remedy: to give what you have not received. If you have not received understanding, then show understanding to others. If you have not received love, then show love to others.” [Meeting With The Young People; Kasarani Stadium, Nairobi, 27-11-2015]
Now, that is all well and good: to bring healing to others: but I’m very busy just surviving! Or, I’m very busy running my business, etc. How do we find time to be a healer?
Sometimes, healing does require the sacrifice of time and material goods but, often, we can bring healing to many people by simply being ‘nice’ to them in our ordinary ‘busyness’.
A word of appreciation, a word of praise, a word of encouragement. They are small things to say, but can make a big difference in the way someone feels about themselves.
And the way we feel/ think about ourselves is the difference between sickness & health, between success and failure. As someone said: a bad attitude is like a flat tyre on a car, you can’t go anywhere until you change it.
It is noteworthy that Jesus sent out the disciples in pairs = two by two. This has many benefits:
1) protection = safety in numbers;
2) encouraging = help each other when rejected;
3) self-correcting = keep each other humble and “on the right track”;
4) confirming = help each other discern: the Holy Spirit is able to defeat our pride.
However, perhaps the greatest gift of not going alone is the ability to demonstrate our love for each other. This is the basis of religious life, though sadly not perfect all the time: our community life gives us energy and strength to go out and be a source of healing for others. Just as a loving family life empowers children to take good risks to build up our community.
Finally, Jesus tells them not to take a lot for the journey. This usually evokes thoughts of poverty. However, simplicity would be a better word: the more material things we have, the more time we spend caring for them and less time for other people.
In addition, going “as we are,” teaches us to give who we are, not what we have. This reminds us that the main healing we all need is love.
As Fr Rolheiser OMI says: “The miracle of the Resurrection is as much about raising deadened souls to new life as it is about raising dead bodies to new life… Forgiveness is the greatest miracle, the pan-ultimate miracle, which, along with everlasting life, is the real meaning of the Resurrection of Jesus. There’s nothing more godlike, or miraculous, than a moment of reconciliation, a moment of forgiveness.” [Real Miracles, 2-Jul-2018].
Our world is seriously wounded, because the majority of us are carrying un-resolved wounds. They can only be healed by forgiveness.
Forgiveness is such an urgent need today because, wounded people wound others, and eventually wounded people damage mother earth: which is where we are today.
Forgiving others might seem unfair to us, but it heals our own soul, so we can be free to heal mother earth: to be happy, healthy and SAFE, we must forgive.
By Gerard Conlan, OMI