Shining Christ's Light on Our Soul-Sickness
Leprosy, now known as Hanson’s Disease, is a serious bacterial infection causing tissue and nerve damage. Because it is a bacterial infection, it is contagious. This is why lepers were forced to live away from the community. It has been a fully curable disease since the 1940’s, and in September 2016 health officials introduced an effective vaccine for the disease. Yet, leper colonies still exist around the world, primarily in India, because the cultural stigma caused by fear is much more difficult to eradicate.
Fear is a significant cause the dis-eases of the world. We have a fear of people who are different from us, so we stay away from them. We fear cultures that are different from our culture, so we condemn them or try to change them. We have a fear that others might overpower us, so we build up our defenses to be able to fight against them. Until we begin to acknowledge and accept our differences and learn to dialogue with others, we will continue to ostracize, condemn, and fight against those who are different from us.
Fear also keeps us from healing our personal soul-sicknesses. We hide our personal dis-eases in the shadows, thinking that it’s easier to push them away. Until we bring our ailments into the light, however, they will continue to eat away at our consciences and hearts.
Christ Jesus has the power to heal all of our world’s dis-eases and our personal soul-sicknesses. When we allow Christ’s Light to shine into our shadows and illuminate our soul-sicknesses and dis-eases, we open ourselves to Christ’s healing. The process of healing may be long and painful, but when we acknowledge our ailments, we can receive the vaccine of God’s mercy and love.
Lent begins this week. The Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults recognizes Lent as a season of Purification and Enlightenment. All of the faithful, including those of us who are baptized and those who are preparing for baptism at Easter, are invited to ask Christ to shine his Light into our shadows and enlighten us to any soul-sicknesses we have buried away. It is a time for us to dust off our consciences and explore what is making our souls sick. It is a time for us to ask “What am I hiding?” and “What is keeping me from authentic relationship with my family, friends, and God?”
After the Light of Christ illuminates the dis-eases of our hearts, we can go to Christ and, like the leper, say to him, “If you will it, you can make me clean.” When we open our hearts in humility to Christ, admit our soul-sicknesses, and ask Christ to heal us, we allow the healing power of Christ to permeate our hearts and souls and purify us with his love and mercy and grace.