#Widowed is the reflection for November 8, 2015. What is the point of medicine and what is the point of religion? Scribes, widows, Patch Adams, what do they have in common at all? When we put life in perspective, we can be widowed from what we think is valuable. This can set us free. Listen here in this reflection by Mark Kurowski: Download it into your phone. #MSAWordfortheDay #MySpiritualAdvisor #Sermon #Homily #Widow #Scribe #Meaning #Recapituation #Mission #Perspective #PatchAdams #RobinWilliams #Spiritual #RelationshipWithGod #Stewardship #Life
For listener supported My Spiritual Advisor, this is Mark Kurowski with a reflection for Sunday, 11/8/2015 The 33rd Sunday of Ordinary Time.
Please pause this audio and read Mark 12:38-44.
Is being a doctor about healing or about “practicing medicine?”
Years ago, I went to a doctor who was about healing. He had a tremendous gift of healing. He was also a very fair man, an honest man. When federal agents showed up at his office, he threw open his doors only to find that his staff had been stealing prescription pads from him and writing prescriptions for a fee. Through all of the hearings about his license, the one thing that was never brought up was whether or not he healed anyone.
I used to suffer from back pain that was awful. I pulled a muscle in my back and went to him. He found the huge knot in my back, put an electric acupuncture needle right in the center of it and then put very low level electric currents through it. I was a new man.
When my oldest son fell and injured his wrist badly, he used this electrified crystal which he held about 8” from my son’s wrist, to heal him. I don’t mean just treat the symptom, but to heal him. We never had to get the wrist treated again, use pain killers, etc. In literally ten minutes, he was healed. But, because someone in his office was stealing from him, the State Board felt the need to shut him down. The idea is similar to this scene from the movie “Patch Adams” that I have posted on the website MySpiritualAdvisor.com. [The idea is similar to this scene from the movie Patch Adams].
In the scene, Robin Williams plays a character named Patch Adams who is studying to be a doctor. He believes in using laughter to heal and even has the studies to back it up when questioned. Yet, when the supervisor of residents and interns catches him with a clown nose and large squeaky clown feet making a patient laugh, he is scolded. The supervising doctor says, “If you want to be a clown, go join the circus. Patients don’t need to be entertained. They don’t need a friend. They need a DOCtor.”
The scene, as we all know, points out the hypocrisy of the modern medicinal profit complex. Is the point of medicine to heal people, or is it to practice medicine? For Patch Adams, the point is healing. For the doctor who combined Eastern and Western pain management, the point is healing. Medicine is about, and should be about, healing. Sometimes, that means that we should accept death at the hands of an incurable fatal disease because true healing is to be in the loving arms of Jesus in paradise until the Second Coming.
In the scene from Patch Adams, Adams is wearing a doctor’s coat before the time he is allowed. The supervisor tells him to remove it because he has not reached the coat wearing status. What if Adams has a gift for healing? What if Adams finds a method that treats the whole patient? I often wonder how a local hospital near where I live can truly be concerned about treating the whole patient when they don’t have a pastoral care department. Is medicine about status? Is it about treating diseases instead of healing people?
Humans, we are so silly. We are spiritual beings who are hypostatically unioned to our bodies, that is, our spirits and souls are fundamentally connected to our physical bodies. We place so much in the here and now of our physicality that we often forget the big picture of our spirituality, our souls. That is what is happening in our passage from the Gospel of Mark today, the famous passage about the Widow and her pennies.
The translations we have record Jesus saying, “Beware of the scribes…” In the Greek, the actual text is much more descriptive. It says, “look away from the scribes…” Why? Because they like long robes that draw attention to them, they like to be greeted with honor, sit at the seat of honor, like to say long prayers as they take the houses of widows, one of the lowest classes of the Hebrew society. Widows without husbands are at the mercy of society. They immediately become beggars if no one marries them. Apparently, out of the excess of their exploitation of the poor, the scribes then turn and give to God.
Everything about this scene is just as messed up as the scene from Patch Adams. What is religion about? What is being a Jew or a Christian about? It is not about being a person who is a member of the “chosen people” by birth or status. Being in relationship with God, being religious, being a Jew or a Christian is not about being called “Pastor” or “Father” or “Mother” or “Sister” or whatever title we want. Being in relationship with God is not about using our position to feather our nest. Being in relationship with God, being religious, being a Jew or a Christian, is not about what we can get out of it.
Years ago, I stopped trying to tell people how their lives would be better if they believed in, followed, or gave their lives to Jesus. Listen to that language! Who “gives their lives” to God? How can you give to someone what is already theirs? For those of us who believe that God created the heavens and the earth, that is everything. That is even the stuff we invented using the stuff he created. As to making our lives better, yes, my life is better because it is wrapped up in the meaning and purpose of the salvation of the world, but sometimes my life just sucks. Outside of the value of suffering with Jesus as he suffers, my suffering makes no sense.
So, being in relationship with God is what the Christian life is about.
Enjoying the fact that He has chosen to give me life today is a cause for celebration, no matter if that is a life of begging, incarceration, or riches and freedom. Enjoying the fact that he has given me children, who even though they do things that drive me crazy, they, in and of themselves, before they do anything, are a cause for celebration. Enjoying the fact that God has chosen to give me a purpose to love him and my neighbor is a cause for celebration. Enjoying God’s whispers to me that he loves me, he wants me to do something, he desires me to be of assistance to his great plan for the redemption of the world, it is all cause for celebration. In fact, it is more than enjoyment, sometimes it is downright intoxicating, even in the worst of circumstances because I know there is a God and I am not him!
So, the widow comes. She is poor. She seemingly has nothing; no robes, no titles, no political clout, no chief seat in the synagogue, no husband to support her. In the eyes of society, she is nothing. She climbs the many steps of the massive Temple built by Herod to aggrandize himself. She walks into the outer court, the only place where women are allowed, and where the collection for the Temple is taken (interesting isn’t it ladies?). She takes all that time to get there. She walks in front of the Savior of the World and gives what little she has to support the Lord.
When you are in love, you give all you have, don’t you? When you are in love, perspective and value come to the fore, not the utility of a relationship, right? So, when we say, “I love you, Lord”, or “I believe in Jesus Christ, his only son, our Lord”, what exactly do we mean? Are we only about having God take care of us? Do we think of the tithe, for example, and think, “Oh, that is not realistic?” Do we think, “Oh, I don’t need to serve in a ministry, I can just go to church on Sunday?” Is our relationship with God a relationship or a transaction? Is our participation in church about our own satisfaction, our own convenience, our own benefit, or is it about participation in a relationship with God for a common mission for which we are willing to sacrifice even ourselves?
Is being a doctor about healing or about practicing medicine? Is being a Christian about our benefit or the mission? Doctors heal. Christians serve. I think the widow has spoken and the Lord agrees. Amen.