Saturday after Ash Wednesday
Suppose you are not feeling well. You go to your doctor and after a thorough examination he tells you that you have a severe case of diabetes. You must go on a very strict diet. You have to give up most of your favorite foods. Drinking (alcohol) is out of the question. The doctor warns you that it is a matter of life or death.
I think you would go along with what the doctor says. You would be very foolish to ignore the diagnosis and pretend that you are not sick at all. The best doctor in the world would be absolutely no help to you unless you were first willing to admit that you were sick – that you needed his or her service.
The Pharisees and scribes in today’s gospel were very foolish people. They were self-righteous – that is, right in their own eyes but not in the eyes of God. When Jesus said, “Those who are healthy do not need a physician,” he was being ironic – meaning the opposite of what he said in the sense that the Pharisees and the scribes were not healthy at all. They were seriously sick with the spiritual disease of selfishness and pride. As such they needed to go on “spiritual diet” – that is, they needed to give up following their own ways and seeking their own interests. But even Jesus could not help them because they were unwilling to admit that they were sick.
Jesus is our Divine Physician. He has the skill and the means to cure us of sin if we only follow his advice and his directions. But first we must be humble enough to accept his diagnosis. We must be humble enough to admit that we are spiritually sick – due to selfishness and self-centeredness, pride and conceit, envy and jealousy, greed and lust, bitterness and resentment. We must be humble enough to recognize that we cannot cure ourselves of any spiritual illness, and that Jesus alone, the Divine Physician, can heal us.
Before Communion we admit to Jesus that we are spiritually ill and that we need his help – by saying: “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.” That humble admission is the first step on the road to full recovery from the sickness of sin. (Charles Miller)