February 28, 2024, 6:00 AM

Franciscan Fractals: “Healing”

Contemplating today’s culture with the wisdom of Jesus and St. Francis.

Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? I Corinthians 1:20

My heart breaks for survivors of abuse, including those who have been affected by mass shootings, and anyone who has suffered mentally, emotionally, and physically in other ways. Recently, MSU students rallied on the steps of the state capitol stating that “enough is enough.” They demanded new state and federal laws that would keep them safe, and above all, give them “healing.”

Sexual abuse survivors in the MSU Larry Nassar case attempted a different tactic to heal. The University offered financial remuneration to assuage their abuse (in addition to prosecution of the perpetrator). Yet, the survivors still feel that they have not healed. Was the $1 million payout per person not enough? If not, what is the amount that allows a person to heal?

More recently, students and parents affected by the Oxford High School shooting have demanded implementation of state laws around the prohibition of guns. They too are looking for “healing.” However. what law guarantees healing? What threat of punishment connected to these new laws need to be enacted to effect healing for survivors?

If not through laws or financial payouts, how does a person heal from memories that cannot be erased? The illusion is that new laws will solve the issue of being wounded, and somehow those laws will ameliorate personal pain so that healing can emerge. Yet, the wounds experienced by an individual stay in a person’s memory forever. The problem with any legal or financial approach to healing is not based on law or finances.

The other options that our society has offered for healing has been medications and professional counseling or therapy. These latter “listening venues” undoubtedly have value. On the other hand, when a person’s entire worldview is uprooted and past events cause one to even question the existence or role of a higher power (such as God), “talk therapy” frequently leads to only temporary relief without long-term respite. Closer to home, too many victims who attend church fail to see the underlying fallacy of attempting to heal without recognizing that all healing comes from the Divine Healer.

Actions to stem violence are needed and laudable. While a defined “morality” should be re-established, the unspoken issue is that many who seek new laws also desire some kind of “revenge.” Prevention of further trauma is praiseworthy, but there still remains the animus of “getting even.” Healing requires giving up the desire to “get even.” In a culture that sees Christianity as a religious solution for only religious problems, the creation of laws seems for many to be the only logical solution. We forget that God makes foolish the wisdom of this world.

Over 2000 years ago, Jesus Christ modeled how to heal through being one with God. Jesus avoided gathering his disciples together to create new laws. Jesus never asked for money when wronged. Jesus even prayed for his enemies. He lived as a healed person, despite experiencing constant injustice.

Healing was always in Jesus’ heart, on his hands, and in his mouth. He offered only two commandments that are necessary for healing. “Love the Lord your God with ALL your heart, soul, mind, and strength. And love your neighbor as yourself.” (Mark 12:30-31) From these two commandments flows life and all that is necessary for healing.

May all those who suffer from any tragedy find true healing in the unending power of God’s renewing love.

Prayers and Blessings,

Fr. John