To Reconcile and Make New

The graphic is a quote from the following text: 
"Do we WANT to get well? Do we want to stop doing whatever
it is that keeps us from doing what we need to do with our life?" 

Now that Pope Francis has offered an apology on behalf of the Catholic Church for the church’s involvement in residential schools where Indigenous children were abused, even killed,
(I watched it on television and it was a HUGE moment. To see the pope wearing a headdress of an Indigenous people of Turtle Island was powerful and emotional.)
I offer this reflection about healing and reconciliation based on a story about Jesus from the Gospel of John. It is adapted from a more generic reflection written for a World Day of Prayer event. 
I believe white people need to do their own work on healing and reconciliation – it’s not merely up to Indigenous people to forgive and heal. In order to heal our relationship with Indigenous peoples, we need to overcome our inherent and subconscious biases and prejudices, and meet Indigenous people on their terms for reconciling and making new. 

John 5:2-9a (from the Message)
~ Soon another Feast came around and Jesus was back in Jerusalem. Near the Sheep Gate in Jerusalem there was a pool, in Hebrew called Bethesda, with five alcoves. Hundreds of sick people—blind, crippled, paralyzed—were in these alcoves. One man had been an invalid there for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him stretched out by the pool and knew how long he had been there, he said, “Do you want to get well?”
The sick man said, “Sir, when the water is stirred, I don’t have anybody to put me in the pool. By the time I get there, somebody else is already in.”
Jesus said, “Get up, take your bedroll, start walking.” The man was healed on the spot. He picked up his bedroll and walked off. ~

In this story, Jesus encounters a person who has not acted on the opportunities for healing that have been offered. So Jesus asks this person, “Do you want to get well?” 

Do you WANT to get well? 
When the person replies by complaining that no one helps them, Jesus is actually quite curt with him: “Get up, take your mat, and start walking.”

Before we wonder if Jesus was being unsympathetic, even rude – we need to understand the difference between curing, and healing. 

Curing means "eliminating all evidence of disease," while healing means "becoming whole."

You can be healed without being cured. That happens when you are surrounded by people who love you and care for you, who support you and help you. 
Healing is about community, but more significantly, healing is about bringing people into a new kind of community, where they are not an embarrassment or a burden, where they are not simply ignored and stepped over but where they are welcomed and accepted and supported to be themselves and live their lives. 

Doing that – giving people a place where they feel at home, rather than ashamed, where they feel they can be themselves, where they can start the work of transforming their ideas, their hearts, their actions – helps them pick up their mats and walk. Just as they are. 

Obviously, Jesus saw something in this person at the edge of the pool that the person couldn’t see in himself. Perhaps the person had just given up – but Jesus realized with encouragement, with a community to support him, he could be “healed”. 
Healing is realizing your potential. Healing is using one’s skills to help others. 
Healing is getting over ways of thinking and doing that are harmful - to your self, to others - and treating others with dignity, respect, acceptance and fairness.

Jesus is saying to the man, “Stop waiting for someone to carry you. Stop waiting for other people to not be in your way. Figure out what needs to change and get on with living your life.”
He wants this person, and each one of us, to live our lives in ways that uphold the law of love, that lift others up, that make the world a better, fairer, kinder place to be.
His worlds may seem blunt but they are the truth – and Jesus was big on the truth. 

That’s where reconciliation comes in. 

Canada is a country struggling to live out the call for reconciliation with its Indigenous peoples. It's a shame we are struggling with it; it's a shame we are defensive and dismissive and ignorant.
Because reconciliation calls for empathy, respect, and equity. For trust and for justice.  For truth.

Reconciliation is about relationships. 
The root of reconciliation is the word “conciliation”, which is the action of stopping someone from being angry. This doesn't mean Indigenous people must stop being angry at what was done to them and what continues to be done; it means we do everything we can to fix what makes them angry. We do whatever needs to be done to stop them from being angry.
When we have reconciliation, it means that we restore our relationship to one that enables us to be harmonious with one another again – loving and accepting rather than angry and unforgiving. We return to a relationship that is empathetic, respectful and equitable. 

Jesus shows us how to reconcile with ourselves, with each other, and with God: we can admit the things we’ve done wrong, apologize for them if need be, then commit to changing the way we speak and act, and to doing the right thing. 
We can start at any time. We can let go of what keeps us pinned to our mat -- shame, embarrassment, habit, pride -- and get up and walk to a new way. 

So let’s link healing and reconciliation: Reconciliation is a sacrament of healing.  

That is how Jesus’ encounter with the person at the pool becomes a call to act in love for peace and reconciliation
Jesus offers us the steps not only for personal transformation – to heal ourselves and realize our potential – but also for social transformation – to heal each other, and the world, and realize the potential of all humanity to live in harmony with each other, and with God. 

Let's make reconciliation an act of holiness. The divine in me acknowledges the divine in you. 

But first we must ask, Do we WANT to get well? Do we want to stop doing whatever it is that keeps us from doing what we need to do with our life? 
Are we ready to get up, roll up our mats, and walk in a new way with our Indigenous elders and siblings? 

This is not only the work of reconciliation but also the work of GRACE. Everyone is welcome in our healing community. Everyone is welcome JUST AS THEY ARE, with the life they are living. 

This is who we are as a community of faith – we are the healers – and we are called, by grace and by God, to offer healing to everyone. 
By admitting our wrongs, asking to be forgiven, and promising to make changes and do better.

~ SJ 


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