THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH
Her Doctrine and Morals
Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost
13 October 2019
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There are two kinds of suffering we experience in this life. There are sufferings in our bodies that are united with pain in our hearts and minds. Then, there are sufferings in our souls that are united with joy in our hearts and minds. Jesus can and does heal both bodies and souls. Suffering and joy do not appear to belong together, but we quite often find them together in the lives of the saints.
Both types of suffering are beneficial for us as they are a corrective and healing remedy for our disordered natures imposed upon us by God. The suffering of wounds and bruises to our bodies are effective in turning us away from whatever evil brought forth the wounds and bruises. These pains often follow naturally from our rebellion or disobedience, but they can also be self-inflicted to train our unruly natures to return to order and reason. We find these pains unpleasant and therefore effective deterrents from sin and disorder. They are even doubly painful when, with a rebellious will, we resist them we do not correct the evil that caused them and deprive ourselves of any relief; adding another evil to the former
The pains inflicted by our guilty consciences can be accompanied by joy. In weeping over our former sins we experience both pain and joy simultaneously. The guilt causes pain but the tears of repentance bring forth joy and hope of forgiveness. There is a tremendous sweetness in contrition that must be experienced if it is to be understood or appreciated. Sadly many refuse this experience and therefore believe that contrition is hard, bitter, and painful. The longer they put off their repentance the more bitter it becomes in their minds. They live out their lives in a false, bitter and painful "reality" because they will not believe or trust Jesus.
It is only after we have been freed from our sins that we can look back upon them and see just how evil and painful they were. This hindsight brings forth tears of sorrow for what we were or what we did, but these tears are accompanied by tears of joy that we are leaving these evils behind and advancing to ever greater goodness and happiness with God in Heaven.
In today's Gospel, the paralyzed man was brought to Jesus by his friends. The Gospel says that Jesus saw "their" faith rather than "his" faith. It was the faith of the friends, perhaps united with the faith of the paralytic man. It was not the faith of the paralyzed man, or at least, not only his faith. We should never hesitate to offer prayers for one another, nor should we hesitate to seek the prayers of others for ourselves.
Jesus looks first to the man's soul. He tells the man to be of good heart because his sins are forgiven him. To offer proof that Jesus can forgive sins He then heals the man's body. In seeking cures it is often very helpful to understand the causes. Ultimately, all disease and illness is the result of Original Sin. Quite often, we can find reasons for our physical pains by looking into our consciences. With true faith, we can offer thanks to God for sending us this pain (chastising) us here and now so that He may spare us in Eternity. Looking for and finding fault with ourselves is painful, but it is also a most comforting experience. We discover that God is not only just, but He is good and merciful too. Our pain has a reason and a purpose.
We willingly endure the sting of an injection needle so that we may prevent or cure some ailment or disease. The spiritually-minded willingly endure the physical pains of this life to prevent or cure the disease of sin in his soul. This is nothing less than following the command of Jesus to deny ourselves, take up our daily crosses, and follow Him. We often thank the medical doctor for the slight pain he causes us because we understand the good that comes with it. Much more so should we be grateful to the Divine Physician for the crosses, sufferings, and pains He gives us so that He may lead us to contrition and save us from immensely greater pains in Hell.
The sadness and tears of the saints were accompanied by happiness and joy. Their crosses were found to be light and sweet. We, often and wrongly, shy away from the pain of our physical and spiritual crosses. If we face manfully the true examination of our hearts and souls, it will hurt, but it will bring us to contrition, repentance and then to eternal life. Even after our sins are washed away they often bring forth pain and tears to our hearts and we say with St. Augustine: "I have loved Thee late my God, but I love Thee now, and I strive to love Thee more and more every day." In the pain of seeing our true selves, there is, also, the distinctive taste of sweetness and joy.
With the man in the Gospel and all the penitent saints, let us seek first to hear the words of Jesus, "thy sins are forgiven thee." The only place we can hear these words and have them take their effect upon our souls is in the Holy Sacrament of Penance. This will bring both joy and sorrow to our hearts, but we look forward (if not in this life, then in the next) to have Him heal our bodies also.
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