Wounded Healers 2022-9-4 Fr. Roberto
Homily for 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time – Year C
Fr. Roberto Corral, OP
St. Dominic’s Church, Los Angeles, CA
September 4, 2022
Title: Wounded Healers
Theme: Jesus invites us to be wounded healers like him.
Readings: Wisdom 9:13-18b; Philemon 9-10, 12-17; Luke 14: 25-33
A man named Elie Wiesel was born into a Jewish family in Romania in 1928. When he was 15, in 1943, he and his family were shipped to the Nazi concentration camp at Auschwitz. Elie survived, but his parents and his sister were killed by the Nazis. A number of years after the war, Elie became a well-known writer and speaker on behalf of those suffering from violence, repression and racism throughout the world which led to his winning the Nobel Peace Prize in 1986. Years later, Elie was asked in an interview how he could continue to hold onto his Jewish faith and believe in God after experiencing an evil as great as the Holocaust. This was his response: “My life is not without faith, but my faith is a wounded faith. I did not divorce God, but I'm quarrelling and arguing and questioning; my faith is a wounded faith.” “My faith is a wounded faith” – isn’t that a powerful and realistic way to describe how we can feel at times in our lives when we are struggling? We continue to have faith, but it is a wounded faith.
That certainly describes me and my faith when I arrived here at St. Dominic’s in March, 2019.
I believe I mentioned in one or more of my homilies back then that I had been through a difficult time in my life and my priesthood the previous year because we Dominicans decided to pull out of the parish in Northern California at which I had been pastor for 10 years. We Dominicans had founded that parish and had served there for 154 years, and then, for various reasons, we decided to leave and hand over the parish to the diocese. I was not in agreement with that decision. On top of that, I had experienced the loss of three important people in my life at around the same time. So, because of all that, I was devastated; my heart was wounded…and so was my faith. I still believed in God, in the Church, in the Dominicans and in my priesthood, but my faith on all those levels was a wounded faith.
When I got here to St. Dominic’s in 2019, I was slowly beginning to get back on my feet, but I still had a long way to go. However, now as I prepare to leave St. Dominic’s, I am happy to say that, during my 3 ½ years here in this parish, all of you have truly helped to heal my wounded heart and my wounded faith. Your warmth, your smiles, hugs, handshakes, your requests for “mano po” – for those of you who are Filipino – your faith, your prayers, your encouraging words, your generosity and service, your delicious food and the many, many cards and gifts, love and care that you have given to me and to all of us Dominicans here have been amazing and healing for me.
But perhaps the greatest thing you have done for me in these years, is to help me understand and live out today’s Gospel in a much more profound way. I want you to look at this cover of today’s bulletin. For those of you at the back of the church, it is a picture of a wounded heart that has been stitched back together. To me, that is a picture of my heart and my faith right now. They are wounded like this heart, but they are being held together. Like Elie Wiesel, the man whom I mentioned earlier, I am still arguing with and questioning God about the many things that have happened in my life these recent years that I do not yet understand. But even though my heart and faith still bear these wounds, you, the parishioners of St. Dominic’s, have helped me to stitch them back together.
You have helped me to understand and to accept that my wounded heart and wounded faith are part of my journey. They are part of my saying yes to Jesus and what he says in today’s Gospel: “Whoever does not carry their own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.” During these 3 ½ years, you have helped me understand that my cross as a Dominican, as a priest and simply as a Catholic follower of Jesus is to be willing to be wounded for the sake of love. That means that my cross is to allow my wounds to break open my heart and stretch it out so that I can become more compassionate and more aware of my need for God, so that my love and my faith can become more authentic and more like Jesus’ love and faith. It does not mean that I have to like it or that I will even understand why it has happened, but that I simply have to carry it as my cross in order to follow Jesus.
Well guess what I am going to say next. Jesus is saying that to all of us in today’s Gospel not just to me: “Whoever does not carry their own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.” In other words, if you want to be Jesus’ disciple, you too have to be willing to be wounded for the sake of love because that is the only way your love and your faith will grow. Every one of us here who has truly loved another human being has been wounded again and again because of that love, isn’t that right? And your faith in that person or in those people you have loved has also been wounded along with your heart, isn’t that right? And that is because that is the price we have to pay to love.
It is also because those people we have loved are imperfect like us, and so they let us down and hurt us at times.
Now, every one of us here who has truly loved God has also been wounded again and again by that love, haven’t we? And when our heart is wounded, our faith in God is also wounded. The thing is though, God does not wound us because he is imperfect like us humans; no, God is absolutely perfect; and, besides that, God is love itself. Therefore, God has perfectly, purposely and lovingly allowed you and me and our hearts and our faith to be wounded again and again throughout our lives – why? Because that is the only path to divine love and to authentic faith.
And, that is the only way that you and I can become what Jesus is for us: a wounded healer.
You see, Jesus was wounded in every way that you and I can be; and, in addition to that, he was infinitely wounded by his passion and death on the cross precisely because he loved the Father and because he loved us with all his heart. He experienced the depth of human suffering and misery; his body, his heart and even his faith in the Father were completely broken open as he cried out from the cross, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” And, on that cross Jesus carried not only his own wounds, not only our sins, but he also carried all of our wounds.
Therefore, he became our wounded healer and brought us the divine healing that only he could give. But even more than that, because of his suffering, death and resurrection, and through the Holy Spirit, Jesus has given us the capacity to become wounded healers ourselves, the capacity to share his divine healing with others.
My brothers and sisters, true love will always wound us; but true love will also eventually heal us.
And it will stretch our hearts, make us more compassionate, more aware of our need for God and make our imperfect love and faith more authentic and more like Jesus’ love and faith. In today’s Gospel, Jesus is inviting you and me to carry our own cross and become his disciples. Jesus does not ask us to do anything he has not done himself; on the contrary, by his wounds we are healed, and by his wounds we can heal others. Jesus is the Wounded Healer who invites us to love as he loves. He says to each one of us: “Will you follow after me and allow yourself to be wounded for the sake of love and become a wounded healer for others?
Again, I thank you for being wounded healers for me in my time here at St. Dominic’s. Thank you for helping me to accept and to grow from my wounded heart and my wounded faith. Thank you for helping me to become a wounded healer and a better priest for others.
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