One day, a man visited his doctor for routine tests. His doctor ran the tests and discovered the man had a very treatable form of cancer. He provided the man a care plan and referred him to a trusted oncologist. An inquisitive man, the man researched his form of cancer online and discovered that some doctors considered his cancer a good and totally natural occurrence. He also found websites and online groups that advocated for not treating the cancer and others that celebrated it. Some people even fashioned whole identities around the cancer.
The man returned to his doctor full of anger. He screamed, “why didn’t you tell me my cancer is good and natural? Why did you scare me with all your “treatment” stuff and a referral to an oncologist?” He continued, “I found the truth on my own. I found real doctors and people who celebrate my condition.” His doctor looked at the man full of compassion and said, “your cancer is not good or natural, and if not treated, this very treatable cancer will eventually take your life.” In reply, the man demanded, “I want you to agree with those other doctors! Not only do I want you to declare my cancer good and natural, but I also want you to never tell another patient it is not good and natural. Furthermore, for the sake of my mental health, if you truly care about me as your patient, I need you to affirm and celebrate my cancer!”
“Unfortunately, I cannot do that,” the doctor lamented. “I swore an oath “to do no harm.”” Tearing up, he continued, “if you refuse treatment for this cancer, it will kill you!” And with even more emotion, “look, I will even cover all the costs of the treatment. You will pay nothing!” And finally, his voice cracking, “please let me help you live! Don’t needlessly throw your life away.”
Irritate, the man looked at his doctor for the last time and proclaimed, “you are a bad doctor! Not only are you a bad doctor, but you are also a bad person. You say you care about me but all you do is try to scare me. A loving doctor would never do such things to his patients.” Before closing the door, the man cried, “I’m going to tell the world what a horrible doctor you are. I hope you lose all your patients.” With that, he slammed the door and left.
In time, the man succumbed to the cancer. Upon hearing the news, his doctor wept.
Jesus, the Good Physician
In the parable above, the physician represents the Good Physician. The man represents all who choose sin over the healing Jesus offers and Himself paid for.
And when Jesus heard it, he said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” [Mark 2:17]
The Catechism reaffirms this view of Jesus as the Good Physician:
1505 Moved by so much suffering Christ not only allows himself to be touched by the sick, but he makes their miseries his own: “He took our infirmities and bore our diseases.” But he did not heal all the sick. His healings were signs of the coming of the Kingdom of God. They announced a more radical healing: the victory over sin and death through his Passover. On the cross Christ took upon himself the whole weight of evil and took away the “sin of the world,” of which illness is only a consequence. By his passion and death on the cross Christ has given a new meaning to suffering: it can henceforth configure us to him and unite us with his redemptive Passion.
Moreover, by allow Jesus to heal us from our sin, we also receive a new context for suffering. Suffering, even the suffering we bring upon ourselves through our sin, takes on new meaning.
An Identity as a Good Patient
To identify as a good patient, we must identify with Christ, not our sin. Furthermore, if we identify with our sin, we add to our sin the sin of pride. We say to God, “I want you to declare my sin good and natural. Also, I want you to tell other sinners their sin is good and natural, too.” As good patients, we take St. Paul’s words in Galatians to heart. St. Paul affirms:
I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. [Galatians 2:20]
As a Good Physician, Jesus heals and pays our price.
for you were bought with a price. So, glorify God in your body. [1 Corinthians 6:20]
Sadly, there exist some under the Good Physician’s care that deny the illness of others and agree with those “doctors” in the parable that mislead the man diagnosed with cancer.
Deniers of Sin an Impediment to Healing
St. James admonishes us to bring back sinners from their wandering. He states:
let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins. [James 5:20]
Notice that St. James states the stakes—saving a soul from death and covering a multitude of sins. One must ask, why would someone who should know better deny the sin of others and thereby leave their neighbor in sin and possible eternal condemnation? Unfortunately, some think it inappropriate, even rude, to call certain sins an actual sin. To them, certain sins are sacred or natural and good. Furthermore, to call sin something considered natural and good participates and perpetuates bullying. So, we must stand back and mind our business, focus on our own sins, and act like everything is fine. All the while, those in need of healing perish in their sin…
In conclusion, let us not forget that the Good Physician stands ready to heal. He also stands ready to pay the price required for our healing. May we all seek the Good Physician and the healing He offers.
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