WHEN the telephone rings, most of us are quick to answer the call. We respond to the insistence of the summons. Long before telephones existed, a crippled woman responded to another kind of call and was promptly freed from her disability. ``And, behold, there was a woman which had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bowed together, and could in no wise lift up herself. And when Jesus saw her, he called her to him, and said unto her, Woman, thou are loosed from thine infirmity. And he laid his hands on her: and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God.''1 The part of this passage that has always stood out to me is ``he called her to him.'' The Master did not go to the side of the incapacitated woman in this case but called her to come to him. Obviously, this wasn't a thoughtless request, because Christ Jesus was the most loving man who ever walked this earth. Wasn't he looking past the outward evidence of suffering and discerning the reality of the woman's being as God had actually created her -- spiritual and upright?
The call of the Christ was a call to awake from her ``bowed together'' sense of helplessness and despair. The woman may have seen herself as sentenced to a life of invalidism. Jesus saw her as victorious, not victimized, and with the divine right to be free. He called upon her to accept this freedom, and she responded to his healing summons.
Each of us can be awakened by and respond to the call of the Christ, which can come to us daily, hourly, even moment by moment. It can come when we are ``bowed together,'' wrapped up in troubles that may seem overwhelming. If we answer the call, as the woman did, turning trustingly to Spirit -- committing ourselves to God's care -- we too can be loosed from bondage. We can be freed from whatever would curtail our dominion and progress and be ``made straight.'' Christ, Truth, sets us straight mentally. Christ liberates us from any false sense of self, such as self-consciousness, self-will, self-depreciation, and leads us to be conscious of God, to obey His will, and toappreciate the spiritual reality of His offspring, man. Today, as always, the ever-present, ever-active Christ quiets fear, dispels discouragement, and enables us to glorify God, our creator, in wholeness and usefulness. The yearning heart, the listening ear, is receptive to the call of the Christ and ready to respond to its inluence. Prayer is often the means by which we come to feel this healing influence and to discern our true status as God's likeness, untouched by suffethe states of consciousness addressed by the Christ in her poem ``Communion Hymn.''
Mourner, it calls you, -- ``Come to my bosom, Love wipes your tears all away, And will lift the shade of gloom, And for you make radiant room Midst the glories of one endless day.''
Sinner, it calls you, -- ``Come to this fountain, Cleanse the foul senses within; 'Tis the Spirit that makes pure, That exalts thee, and will cure All thy sorrow and sickness and sin.''2
Since, as Christian Science teaches, healing and regeneration go hand in hand, the primary call of the Christ is for individual growth in Christian character. Honesty, purity, humility, goodness, love, forgiveness -- these are but a few of the Christly qualities we are called upon to express more fully.
One time when I was struggling with something I found difficult to forgive, the call of the Christ came to me in the form of words uttered on the cross by the Master: ``Father, forgive them....''3 Instantly I felt a surge of joy as I realized that it is the Father's province to forgive. All sense of struggle left me, and later in a very natural way I was able to express friendliness and warmth to the individual involved. Our harmonious relationship has continued.
For various reasons one may not always be willing or able to answer a ringing phone, but when the Christ calls, we had better respond! No matter what is demanded of us, we can be sure of a blessing.
1Luke 13:11-13. 2Poems, p. 75. 3Luke 23:34. DAILY BIBLE VERSE: Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light. Ephesians 5:14