Taking Care of Ourselves

The phenomenon of the separation of the public life from private life has been praised by some people as a way of surviving the emotional pressure associated with the public life. This idea is beneficial for some professional workers such as doctors, police men, missionaries, lawyers, soldiers etc.

According to this view, doctors for instance, are not to attach themselves emotionally to their patient, so as to be able to survive the eventual death of some of their patients. The promoters of this proposition, however, seem less aware of the consequences of such a separation such as the possible nonchalant and callous attitude of medical practitioners towards their patient.

Inner Disunity

Moreover, this inner disunity could explain why some people maintain moral principles in some spheres of their life, while at the same time do evil in other spheres. An instance of such fragmentation is percievable during the Nazi time. On Christmas night 1943, the Einsatzkommando IIb received an order to kill 3000 Jews and Gypsies in Russia. The order was executed doubly quick in order to enable the soliders to attend the Midnight Mass. Here the soldiers considered killing as carrying out their duties, so much so that they could comfortably combine it with attending a church service.

Hence, when fragmentation sets in, it becomes very difficult for one to recognise that he/she is doing evil, because fragmentation locates evil outside of oneself, in the other, and gives one the feeling that one is better than others. Some habits indicative of fragmentation include judging, blaming, criticizing and deriding other people, simply because one thinks he/she is the better person as graspable from the prayer of the Pharisee and Publican ( Luke 18: 9-14). This loss of consciousness of sin is one of the major reasons why forgiveness becomes very difficult (Luke 6: 27-38).

Separation

Another likely side of fragmentation is the separation of one‘s life in the church from one‘s life at home or at work. This divorce of religion from life ensures that faith does not impact the daily life. At the Vatican II Council, this development was blamed on lack of active participation, and the Council came up with the means of inculturating the faith. It was around this time that many hermits retired to the desert in the bid to devote themselves totally to the noble task of contemplation. However, aware of the importance of faith for daily life, Jesus prayed to the Father not to take the disciples out of this world, but, to protect them from the evil one (John 17:15).

Unity of Life

By emphasizing that the disciples should remove the wooden beam out of their own eyes before removing the splinter out of their brothers‘ eyes (Luke 6: 39-45), Jesus attacks fragmentation and advocates for a unity of life. It is true that the church does not need to be perfect before she can evangelize, but what is necessary is the demonstration that she is open to the message of salvation she carries.

Formation of Good

This openness implies efforts towards formation of one‘s heart because “a good person out of the store of goodness in his heart produces good things“ (Luke 6: 45). This heart formation is seen in the first reading as mind formation. “Just as the fruit of a tree shows the care it has had, so does one‘s speech disclose what is on one‘s mind“ (Sirach 27:4-7). This is important because our actions and words arise from our thoughts. Thus, taking care of ourselves remains more crucial than the cognizance of the faults of others. Besides, taking care of ourselves is indispensable because our life is a crucial part of our mission. And this upcoming Lenten season is an opportune moment to do that.

[Readings: Sir 27:4-7; 1 Cor 15:54-58; Lk 6:39-45]

Fr. John Opara

Fr. John Opara is an associate pastor at St. Johannes Lette Coesfeld, Germany. He has a doctorate degree in Sacred Liturgy and is a priest of the Catholic Diocese of Orlu in Nigeria. Email: johnugofr@yahoo.com.

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