YEAR C: HOMILY FOR THE 8TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
HOMILY THEME: “Jesus said to his disciples, ‘The good person out of the good treasure of the heart produces good, and the evil person out of evil treasure produces evil.’” (Luke 6:45)
BY: Fr. Robert deLeon
HOMILY: Luke 6:39-45
Dan, long-time physician friend, now retired, sent me inspiring words that, while specific to physicians (like him) and health care chaplains (like me), has much to say to all of us in our daily lives as Christians.
The article Dan sent is entitled, “A Sermon Every Physician Should Read.” While the article was written by Steve Levine, it began as an address to the American Medical Association House of Delegates delivered last November by Linda G. Fisher, a chaplain with the Palliative Care Team at MedStar Washington Hospital Center. I share with you excerpts of that address:
“Over the years, I have watched highly skilled and dedicated physicians struggle, mightily, to practice the art of medicine in the shifting and ever-constricting landscape of health care in this country. I have watched physicians struggle to retain a sense of their vocation as healers in a culture that simply wants you to finish an exam in 15 minutes and keep moving. I have watched physicians suffer and ultimately burn out under the burden of caring too much within a system that is often deaf and blind to suffering in any form. And, at the same time, on a daily basis, I have witnessed physicians continue to show up at the bedside of the one who suffers, following their better angels, offering the very best of themselves in the service of healing as they continue to strive to be powerful, effective, and compassionate advocates for the health and well-being of all people within a medical culture that has, in some respects, lost its way. “Now I borrow shamelessly from one of your own, Rachel Naomi Remen, MD, a physician- healer who has been a powerful voice for integrative and holistic medical care and an advocate for physician wellness for decades. Here are the words of Dr. Remen, as she speaks to ‘what matters most’:
“‘In this difficult time in the history of medicine, I have found strength in some very simple things. Old things. There is a deep river of meaning that runs through this work, whether you are a doctor or a nurse, a psychologist, a chaplain, or a social worker. Remembering this meaning daily is what keeps us alive in this work and protects us from exhaustion. The meaning of this work has not changed in thousands of years. It is a part of our lineage. The doctors of many generations ago would have envied us our tools, our scientific reach, and our therapeutic power. But they would have understood our intention and purpose perfectly because they shared it with us. The meaning of medicine isn't science. The meaning of this work is service. Service is not a work of the intellect; service is a work of the heart and soul.’
“And so I say to each of you here today: You. Are. Enough. You. It is not your scientific expertise that blesses and heals others; it is your humanity, your deep compassion, and your intention, as a healer.” ( www.texmed.org/ sermon/)
In the gospel passage we hear today, “Jesus said to his disciples, ‘The good person out of the good treasure of the heart produces good, and the evil person out of evil treasure produces evil.’” (Luke 6:45) The good treasure of the heart —this is what matters most, where all that is best begins. What is evil—often a hunger to fill a pocket with treasure—can only result in pain and suffering. As Chaplain Linda Fisher suggests in her address, Jesus might well be speaking directly to the reality of our present health care system.
But what is she saying to us? What is Jesus saying? Their message is the same. Our work as Christians is service to one another, especially to the least. It is not a work of the intellect but a work of the heart and soul. It is the deep compassion of our humanity that will bring healing to brokenness. And so let us go forth into a wanting world with the offering of our heart’s treasure.