Knowing Our Need

– Saturday after Ash Wednesday –

‘The Pharisees and their scribes were complaining to his disciples, saying, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” Jesus answered, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; I have come to call not the righteous but sinners to repentance.”’   [Luke 5:30-32]

Have you ever considered giving thanks for the fact that you are a sinner? Here we are not talking about giving thanks for sin as that would be, at best, perverse. Instead, we are talking about the acknowledgement that it is you and me Jesus has in mind in today’s text – offering us the chance to be the recipients of his love and healing.

Perhaps you don’t habitually see yourself in those terms, and certainly, we don’t want to get caught up in unhealthy obsessions with the various ways we get things wrong. That preoccupation should be consigned to the Catholic past. However, the fact is that unless we know our need, we can fail to search for the remedy. As anyone with health issues knows, the first step is to pay attention to symptoms and, from there begin to find someone you can trust to help you with them. There, the possibility of healing lies.

That Jesus uses the image of ‘health’ to talk about sin is not without its significance here. The path to healing we all require begins with acknowledging that there are things in our lives and hearts that are less than ideal.

We recall the significance of the ashes we received a few days ago: “the ashes we receive on our foreheads should affect the thoughts passing through our minds. They remind us that, as God’s children, we cannot spend our lives chasing after dust. From there a question can pass into our hearts: ‘What am I living for?’” (Pope Francis, Ash Wednesday, Homily, 2020)


by Shane Dwyer

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