Then Levi gave a great banquet for Jesus in his house, and a large crowd of tax collectors and others were at table with them. The Pharisees and their scribes complained to his disciples, saying, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?”
Jesus said to them in reply, “Those who are healthy do not need a physician, but the sick do. I have not come to call the righteous to repentance but sinners.” (Luke 5:29-32)
Have you ever heard of something called a wellness program? The idea behind it is to develop a lifestyle that will keep you healthy and make you less vulnerable to illnesses that require a doctor’s attention. A good wellness program will include a balanced diet, regular exercise, the right vitamin supplements, and regular physical checkups.
What does this have to do with Jesus’ words to the Pharisees and scribes: “Those who are healthy do not need a physician, but the sick do” (Luke 5:31). Because he consorted with prostitutes and other obvious sinners, Levi was himself probably spiritually “sick.” So it was only natural that Jesus, the divine Physician, would reach out to him.
Not all of Jesus’ disciples were in such bad shape. Andrew, for instance, was a devoted follower of John the Baptist before he met Jesus. And James and John were probably hardworking fishermen, devoted family men, and faithful Jews. Most likely, these men were in decent shape spiritually. But they followed Jesus because they recognized how much his spiritual medicine could help them live even fuller, healthier lives.
How healthy are you spiritually as a Catholic man? During Lent many of us implemented what could be called a spiritual wellness program based on the Lenten practices of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. However, now that Lent is over we may now have gone back to our old ways of thinking and acting, and old habit patterns. You may not fall into the “major sinner” category that would apply to someone like Levi, so you may not need radical surgery. But what about those nagging aches and pains caused by anxiety, “minor” resentments, or “small” offenses against God’s commandments? None of us is perfectly healthy. We all need Jesus’ healing touch in one way or another. And that’s why we all should follow a spiritual wellness program every day of the year, not just during Lent.
What would a spiritual wellness program look like? Such a program can take on many forms. Below is a simple four-step approach to establishing a spiritual wellness program:
- Instead of vitamins, we follow a daily regimen of prayer and Scripture reading to give us the energy we need to stay focused on the Lord.
- Instead of physical exercise, the program includes the exercise of our wills to let in all that is good and reject all that is bad. To further strengthen and purify our wills, we do a daily examination of conscience – reviewing our day and repenting of any sins we may have committed.
- Instead of a healthy diet, we make sure we have a steady diet of the Sacraments, including receiving the body and blood of Christ in the Eucharist to keep us filled with Jesus’ life and experiencing the reconciling power of Jesus’ forgiveness in Confession.
- Instead of regular physical checkups, we stay connected to brothers in Christ in the church through small parish-based men’s groups, where we can support one another and pray for one another.
These are fairly simple steps to take. But remember, it’s not all about us, it’s all about Jesus. He is our divine physician and healer. So why not join his wellness center, and start your spiritual wellness program today? You’ll be glad you did.
“Lord Jesus, you are the great physician of my soul. I want to follow you and live a life pleasing to you. Heal me and transform me in your love, so that I may live life to the fullest as your disciple.”
Maurice Blumberg was the founding Executive Director of the National Fellowship of Catholic Men (http://www.nfcmusa.org/), and is currently a Trustee. He is also the Director of Partner Relations for Partners in Evangelism, (http://www2.wau.org/partners/), a Ministry to the Military and Prisoners for The Word Among Us. Maurice can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
[Many thanks to The Word Among Us (http://www.wau.org/) for allowing me to adapt some material from daily meditations in their monthly devotional magazine. Used with permission.]
Questions for Reflection/Discussion by Catholic Men
1. The Pharisees and scribes probably felt they were righteous enough not to need the healing and forgiveness that Jesus was offering to them. What about you? Do you still need more of Jesus’ ongoing healing and forgiveness? Why or why not?
2. One of the questions in the article is: How healthy are you spiritually as a Catholic man? How would you answer this question?
3. The article goes on to describe a four-step spiritual wellness program. Are their parts of this program you are already implementing? Which ones? Are their parts of the program you have not implemented? Are you willing to include them in your spiritual wellness program? Why or why not?
4. Are their additional steps you want to add to your program? What are they?
5. If you are in a men’s group try implementing the four-step program outlined in the article, or your own modified one. Share the fruit of doing this at your next men’s group meeting.
Also, if you are in a men’s group, take some time at the end of your meeting to pray for one another that each of you would be open to Jesus’ healing and transforming touch as you implement and follow your spiritual wellness program.