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A reflection for the fourth Sunday of Lent

Father Clifford Hennings, O.F.M. reflects on the readings for March 14, 2021.

Readings (Year B)

2 Chronicles 36:14-16, 19-23
Psalms 137:1-6
Ephesians 2:4-10
John 3:14-21

Reflection: The great physician

I would like to share with you a story—a story of when I was a fool. There are many such stories to tell, but this one goes back a few years.

It was summer and I was working fulltime as a hospital chaplain. I was a student chaplain, learning on the job. This job meant responding to code blues, praying with families, praying with doctors and nurses overcome with fatigue, 24-hour rotations on call.

Needless to say, it was a time rich in grace but also packed with stress.

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After a couple of months of this, I started to notice something. I would wake up in the morning with a sharp pain in my stomach. It would hurt for a while, but eventually go away. I would ignore it and go about my day, but sure enough, the next morning it was back.

This continued for some time . . . and it got worse. Soon the pain was lasting well into the afternoon. It became harder to eat, to sleep. Really, it was hard to do much of anything. Yet I kept trying to ignore it.

“It will go away,” I thought to myself. It didn’t.

Eventually the pain got so bad that I could no longer sleep or eat. After days of this, I finally broke down and told a fellow Franciscan what I was going through.

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He promptly told me, “You need to go to the doctor,” and without a moment’s hesitation, he took me to the doctor.

Sure enough, I had stomach ulcers. I took my medication and began the long work of healing.

Sisters and brothers, I was a fool. The signs that something was wrong were there, but I ignored them. I thought they would just go away on their own. The sad thing is, if I had paid attention earlier, I would have saved a lot of time for recovery.

Isn’t that always the case? We ignore something that is actively harming us, only to find it gets worse? It is far better to admit when something is wrong in the beginning and get the help we need.

Jesus is our healer. He is our great physician. 

He likens himself to Moses and the bronze serpent. When anyone looked upon it, they were healed from deadly poison. Jesus says that those who look upon him and believe, will “not perish but might have eternal life.”

Why delay in your healing, sisters and brothers? We have a physician that wants you healthy.

In this time of Lent, we pray, fast and give alms, so the great physician may heal us of what ills us. 

Don’t be like me, a fool who put this off. If there are any guilts or faults you have been ignoring, or putting off addressing, now is the time to address them.

Our Lord came for this very reason. He is here for you now. Come and look upon him and receive his healing mercy.


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About the author

Father Clifford Hennings, O.F.M.

Father Clifford Hennings, O.F.M. is associate pastor of the Church of the Holy Family in Novi, Michigan.

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