The Word of God made flesh for our health: Christmas as a therapeutic approach in the light of the Fathers of the Church

The angle dell'omiletica of the Fathers of The Island of Patmos

THE WORD OF GOD FLESH FOR OUR HEALTH: CHRISTMAS JOURNEY AS THERAPY IN THE LIGHT OF THE FATHERS OF THE CHURCH

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It seems clear, as the mystery of the coming of Christ on earth, presents a new therapeutic strategy that divine providence makes available to every man. L’incarnazione conduce a una profonda affinità tra il Salvatore e l’uomo. Christ's affinity for man is constituted by putting on a fragile nature and marked by sin without assuming the original guilt.

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Author
Ivano Liguori, Ofm. Capp.

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the Word of God became man to become a heavenly physician on earth

The birth of Christ constitutes the largest event in the entire human history: in this coming, God clothes himself in the nature of man by making himself in solidarity with him. Tale serena immersione dell’Altissimo nella nostra fragilità, carries out the project of redemption expected by all the prophets.

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In accordance with this will of God "The Fathers and the whole ecclesial tradition see him as a doctor sent by the Father to heal sick men from the consequences of original sin and to restore human nature to its original health" [cf. Jean-Claude Larchet, Therapy of spiritual diseases, and. St. Paul, 2003, pg 2699].

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In this divine action, we must see clearly what constitutes the core of our dignity which cannot be tarnished by any person and anything, a very eloquent sign of the intrinsic value of each person, even if sick.

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To be made worthy - by grace - of the divine nature of the Son of God, constitutes in man the true personal identity that the Holy Pontiff Leo the Great explains precisely starting from the mystery of the nativity:

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"Know, Christian, your dignity e, made partakers of the divine nature, not wanting to return to the abjection of the past with unworthy conduct " [cf. Leo the Great, Speeches, Homily I for Christmas, 1-3; PL 54, 190-193].

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The incarnation of Christ thus determines a profound liberation of the whole man who becomes the paradigm of sympatheia Divina [cf. Peter Crisologo, sermons, 50; PL 52, 340], attitudine che coniuga in sé la capacità che Dio ha di assumere la sofferenza umana insieme alla capacità di risanarla.

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This concept we find it clearly expressed in various healings performed by Jesus and testified by the evangelists. We are faced with the paradigm of wounded healer, the one who is capable of healing because he makes himself sick with the sick.

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It seems clear, as the mystery of the coming of Christ on earth, presents a new therapeutic strategy that divine providence makes available to every man. L’incarnazione conduce a una profonda affinità tra il Salvatore e l’uomo. Christ's affinity for man is constituted by putting on a fragile nature and marked by sin without assuming the original guilt, says the Council:

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«Following the holy Fathers, unanimously we teach to confess one and the same Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, perfect in divinity and perfect in humanity, true God and true man, [composed] of rational soul and body, consubstantial with the Father for divinity, and consubstantial with us for humanity, “similar in everything to us, except in sin”…» [cf. Concilio of Chalcedon, Symbol: DS 301-302].

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The principle of affinity between Christ and man, joins the gap between the divine and the human and this allows the divine nature to heal human nature in depth through a radical and entirely new compromise, indeed: "A healthy person can only cure those who are not healthy if they are also sick with the sick. It is the ancient cure that the centaur Chiron offered to wounded people who went to visit him, to be caring because he is in turn wounded " [cf. Lucio Coco, edited: I will heal you, and. Praglia Abbey, 2013].

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Christ truly fulfills the hope of total healing that the ancients represented in the myth of the centaur healer Chiron, so

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“Everything that Christ had placed in the human body of a heavenly nature, seeing that it was consumed by a corrosive wickedness and that the sinuous serpent was lord of mortals, since he wanted to raise his share, did not leave the disease to other doctors - in fact a small remedy is sufficient for serious diseases -, but emptying himself of his glory, being heavenly and immutable image of the divine, as a man and against mortal laws, in the holy womb of a virgin woman he became incarnate, or incredible miracle for exhausted men " [cf. Gregory of Nazianzo, Pœmata moralia: 1,2,38 vv. 140-148; PG 37, 533].

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The condition of man, towards the heavenly physician, it needs a daily trust which is the human sentiment which - illuminated by grace - leads to the theological virtue of faith.

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Thus, how the sick person heals only if he puts his trust in those who care for him, trust in God is necessary to understand how the entire Christian life is a path of healing in which we are led into the arms of the Lord to regain health. Without this trust, we can never be completely safe from any infirmity.

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Trust in God is necessary so as not to presume about ourselves and not to fall into pathological complaining discontent, which is the daughter of vanity and worldly distress. Saint Augustine explores the theme of the advent of Christ, in relation to the trust and availability that man shows towards God, stating:

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«Our great physician came to the aid of mankind lying sick in the great bed of the world. A good doctor observes and studies the course of the disease, makes a prognosis on its development e, when the suffering of the patient is still slight, he calls in his helpers; in the same way our doctor first sent the Prophets to visit us who brought us their word, their preaching, and he healed some through them. They announced an aggravation of the disease nearing the final stage, which would have required the intervention of the physician in person to whom the patient could directly refer. It had been announced that he would console and heal anyone who had faith in him: "I strike and heal" [cf. Dt 32,39]: and so it happened. He has come, he became man by assuming our condition as mortal men so that we can share his immortality. But men are still troubled by the disease and, parched from fever, with labored breathing, they complain that since the doctor arrived, the fevers became more violent, more severe the torment, the sufferings are unsustainable. Wherever the doctor came from, they do not seem to have welcomed his coming. These are the laments of those who are still immersed in the disease of worldly vanities, having refused to receive from the doctor, the medicine of sobriety " [cf. Sant'Agostino, sermons: 346/In,8; NBA 34, pg 101].

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Each year, Christmas is preceded by a suitable time of preparation so that our Christian life becomes sober from so many distractions and intoxications that distract us from trust in God. The coming of Christ into the world is a cause for great joy [cf. LC 2,10], precisely because the Father

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"Over time it has convinced our nature of its own powerlessness in obtaining life; now he has shown us the Savior who has the power to save even what could not be: through this double means, he wanted us to have faith in his goodness and to see in him […] a doctor" [cf. Letter to Diognetus, IX, 6].

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Reassured by this certainty, we welcome the birth of the Lord as the visit of the heavenly doctor and put aside the fear and shame of being examined, presenting even those most hidden and infected sores that horrify us. Our eyes like that, like those of the holy old Simeon, they will contemplate salvation and with the psalmist we will be happy to sing «Lord, my God, I shouted at you and you healed me " [cf. Will 30,3].

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Cagliari, 24 December 2018

Christmas' Eve

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About Father Ivano

Ivano Liguori Dell'Ordine dei Frati Minori Cappuccini Presbitero e Teologo ( Click on the name to read all its articles )