Clergy Notes — Sunday, October 21, 2018

On Oct. 18 we observed the Feast of St. Luke the Evangelist, the author of the Gospel which bears his name and of the Acts of the Apostles, a companion of St. Paul, and, tradition says, a doctor and an artist. Luke is sometimes referred to as “the Beloved Physician.” This celebration, alongside three conversations in which I have shared this week, have led me to reflect for a moment on the Church’s healing ministry, and its relationship to cultural context and to the medical profession. I am grateful to a psychologist member of St. James’, to a research student from Adler University, and to speakers at the Indigenous Talking Circle hosted at the Synod Office.

Jesus says in St. John’s Gospel, “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” Life in its fulness is health, wholeness of body, mind and spirit. This is God’s longing for all of us. In Jesus’ ministry we see his healing of those who come to him in faith. We see too that the Church has continued this ministry of healing, in the Acts of the Apostles, in the Letter of James, and down the ages in two of the sacraments, the laying-on of hands and anointing, and reconciliation or confession. This desire for wholeness, this ministry of healing and reconciliation, is one of the treasures the Church has to offer to an often broken and divided world.

Too often there appears to be an antipathy between the medical profession, contemporary culture, and the Church’s healing ministry. My conversations this week have reinforced for me the sense of a complementarity here, rather than hostility. The Church delights in and celebrates the skills and expertise of the medical profession, and we may all benefit from the wisdom and insights of our First Nations elders and neighbours. Alongside both of these the Church offers its insights and its gifts: of prayer for wholeness of body, mind and spirit, of the declaration of forgiveness, making effective the reconciliation won by the self-giving of Christ on the cross. Our Street Outreach’s recent workshops on “Trauma and Mindful Self-Compassion” are one example of this.

Our traditions have so much to learn from one another, if only we would first learn to listen!

Fr. Kevin