Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Jesus: The Divine Physician

The image of the physician, at least in classic history, is that of healer—rich in wisdom and
Read Archbishop Carlson's wonderful
elaboration on Jesus as Divine Physician
dedicated to the cure or care of his or her patient.  One can very easily see the image of a physician being associated with Jesus.  The Gospel is full of stories of healing at the hands of Jesus, and later in the New Testament by his Apostles.  Healing was a critical part of Jesus’s ministry.

A good physician is able to develop a relationship with a patient, make a diagnosis and offer treatment for disease.  The doctor enters into a form of “communion” with his/her patient based on mutual trust and dedicated to application of medical science accompanied by good ethics and solid morals.  That is not to say that doctors have not failed in that communion of persons, but that the ideal has not lost its attraction or necessity.

Our Pauline spirituality is blessed by the title of Jesus—the Way, the Truth and the Life.  I think we see the same appreciation of the Divine Physician in this spiritual heritage.  Jesus as way is the first part of the medical relationship.  This is the taking of a history and a physical, and the words of trust expressed between the doctor and patient.  The truth is the diagnosis, what truly ails the patient. The life is the therapy employed by the physician to bring cure, or at the very least comfort, to the ill person.

Jesus, as the Divine Physician, has entered into communion with believers; he has diagnosed their illness (sin) and offers his very life for the cure.  The ultimate cure is eternal life in Heaven.  We need only take the therapy, which involves death to our selfishness and love for God and neighbor.   The publishing of books, broadcasting by radio, creating videos or even blogging are all means by which Paulines minister to those who suffer in any way.  Remember that Pope Francis referred to the Church as a field hospital for those seeking mercy.  Our Pauline Family clearly has established an acute care clinic for this very purpose.

In my work as a physician, I have often had patients speak of their mental and spiritual diseases, knowing I did not have the cure they sought.  I knew that Jesus was the answer to these problems.   Broken families, those without affirmation, the lonely elderly, and confused young people are treated by physicians who do not have the ability to cure their illnesses—illnesses that infect their very sense of worth or relation to God.  These are truly spiritual maladies best handled by the Divine Doctor of souls.

Our Pauline charism of media apostleship can also be seen through the lens of the Divine Physician—The Way, The Truth and The Life.  Modern communication media is often diseased, with attitudes that destroy human dignity and diminish the place of God in human existence.  Our Pauline media work enters into a communion with those who use media in an effort to have a relationship with them.  Through a healing relationship, the Pauline makes a diagnosis of brokenness, sin, and separation from God and neighbor.  The Pauline then offers the therapy.  Therapy is relationship with God, through his Son and enlightened by the Holy Spirit.  This therapy is always effective and needs no FDA approval.  Much like the doctor who hopes his patient will take his medications, Paulines around the world pray in mutual intercession that the ill effects of media are repaired and souls saved.

Appointments with the Divine Physician are easy to obtain since he offers same day access.  A simple act of faith, a small prayer or a word of contrition, and the patient-doctor relationship has begun.  He has offered his very life as our cure—we need only ask for it to begin the road to recovery.

May the Divine Physician assist in our cure, the cure of our families and those of the whole world.
Greg Burke has been a perpetually professed member of the Holy Family Institute for five years. He and Kimberly, his wife of 23 years, have four daughters. Greg works as a general internist and is Chief Patient Experience Officer in the Geisinger Health System, based in Danville, PA. Kim is a nurse and religious education coordinator. Greg also serves as president of the Harrisburg Guild of the Catholic Medical Association and was awarded the Benemerenti Medal for his service, by Pope Benedict XVI, in 2007.

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