“Do you want to be healed?” 

It’s a question Jesus asks, according to New Testament writers.

It’s a question Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew repeats in the timeliest of ways in a new collection What Did Jesus Ask? from Time magazine.

Do we at least want to be healed?

That desire is one that seems quite important, as Jesus points to it. And God, respectful of our free will, never forces Himself — and even emergency surgery -- on us.

Infamously, earlier this fall, a New York newspaper took on political tweets about prayers in the wake of terrorism. They had a point if they were calling out the depth and authenticity of those prayers. But the politicians had a point too: Evil will not be combatted by a political savior. We all have roles to play, but let’s not miss that while we are co-creators, we share in the work of creation, and are responsible for being good stewards of the same, we are not the Creator of the universe and we are not the ones all of human history, or even this moment in time, has been waiting for. We are here for a reason, and knowing Him will help us see His desired path for us clearest. Understanding ourselves — our talents and our weaknesses, our passions and our sorrows -- and those around us, what came before and hopeful for what is yet to come, will get us closer to living according to God’s plans for us. And to be free to do so, we really need to be healed.

Do we want that?

Healing is the stuff of salvation. It’s why God went the path of the Incarnation, Passion, Death, and Resurrection. 

These days, there’s a frustration in the air. Anger. Despair. Cynicism. You see it in the extended presidential season we’re in. In some of the rhetoric and reactions we’re seeing, you’d think we don’t so much want healing as revenge. It’s understandable if politics is awaiting a savior who hasn’t arrived so a strongman might be the only option. But that’s not quite where we need to be.

We need to be asking: “Do we want to be healed? And “do we choose to heal?” 

The patriarch notes that “What is of paramount importance in Christ’s ministry of miracles is not simply the conclusion or culmination of healing the suffering, but rather his eagerness and determination to convince those whom he encounters that he is feeling their suffering.”

This isn’t a campaign “feel your pain” line. It’s living a human life he didn’t have to live in the lowliest and most humiliating of conditions and dying on the cross, so much did he want us to know and know how to live.

These are matters for private and public decisions. It’s the only way to live the integrated Christian life — feeling the suffering of others, wanting to do so for the sake of solidarity and renewal, for the sake of authenticity as a Christian. 

We’re never really going to get there, though, unless we ourselves seek and accept Christ’s healing — the Divine Mercy we'll see and hear much about during a jubilee year of mercy in a heightened way. Jesus urges us to “go and sin no more,” but we will still need Him. As Paul confesses to the Romans (7: 2-23): “In my inmost self, I delight in God’s law; but I see within me another law at war with the law of my mind, making me captive to the law of sin.” As Bartholomew notes, “The reality is that we live in a world of spiritual tension and irreconcilable choices.”

Do we want to do the hard work of healing — admitting our poverty before God and being his arms and feet and voice in His goodness?

“The world is a gift from God, offered for healing and sharing; it does not exist for exploitation or appropriation,” the patriarch writes. “The way we relate to God cannot be separated from the way we respect other people or the way we treat our planet.” 

And as far as choosing to heal goes: “If not, we are denying our very nature as human beings. If we choose not to care, then we are no longer indifferent onlookers; we are, in fact active aggressors. If we do not allay the pain of others, then we are contributing to the suffering of our world. If we do not choose to heal the suffering around us, then ultimately we do not “want to be healed? Not in the most life giving of ways. Not in the ways of eternity. 

There’s another question that is raised in the What Did Jesus Ask? collection, by Los Angeles’s Archbishop Jose Gomez: “What if we really believed that we are loved, that we are wanted, that we are needed? What if we really lived every day as if the Creator of the universe loves us with a parent’s love? As if each person we meet is loved as we are and also has a part to play in the higher purposes of God’s love?”

Our lives would look different and so would our politics, even, wouldn’t they?

“What do you want? What are you looking for?” It’s more than someone who will stick it to the political elites. It’s more than erratic plans and policies aimed at placating and winning for a moment. It’s people who are invested for the long term because they live in gratitude for the love that does not end, the love that knowledge of God brings forth to heal and transform and make us, the most forgotten, and the world flourish in the same. It’s an incomplete project this side of heaven, but if we believe these words we’re singing right about now about a Savior born unto us, it’s the way we ought to want to live.

Kathryn Jean Lopez is senior fellow at the National Review Institute and editor-at-large of National Review Online. She is co-author of the new revised and updated edition of "How to Defend the Faith without Raising Your Voice" (available from Our Sunday Visitor and Amazon.com. Sign up for her weekly newsletter here.