07 July 2020

Healing the imago Dei

14th Week OT (T)
Fr. Philip Neri Powell, OP
St. Dominic Priory, NOLA

One of God's gifts to us – just one among many that marks us out from His creatures as rational animals – is our ability to communicate with one another through the spoken and written word. A philosophy professor of mine, a former Jesuit, used to yell us in class: “If you can't write it, you can't think it! And vice-versa.” So indicative of our rationality is the use of language that some ethicists have proposed that its absence renders one fatally non-human, not a person at all. Catholics won't that far, but it doesn't surprise us that the possessed in our Gospel accounts are all painted as insanely violent or mute or blind, or some combination of the three. Attacking the created imago Dei is exactly what we would expect the demonic to do. When Jesus rebukes the demons, sending them out, he restores to the possessed that which makes them most like God – their intellectual faculties, their ability to think and speak. He does this out of compassion, out of an abundance of love for those for whom he will die on the cross. As Dominican friars, we can ask ourselves, “Does my preaching and teaching bring healing to those who have lost their grip on the reality of who and what they were created and re-created to be?” We are sent as laborers among an abundant harvest, and Christ's compassion for God's people goes with us. To the troubled and abandoned, we can bring freedom and healing, and at the same time, witness ourselves freed and healed.

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