Recently a major supermarket declared that it was no longer putting on sale multi-buy packets of sweets which sell at discount prices. Their motivation was in line with the government's concerns over the rising percentage of people in our country who are clinically obese. The figures are becoming alarming and the consequent threats to individual health as well as to our health service and economy are serious. Their action is good and commendable.
Underlying this action is a recognition that at times people need saving from themselves. In a society that cherishes individual freedom and each person's ability to choose for themselves, it comes as a bit of a shock to find that self-regulation is not always sufficient. Most of like to think that we have the right to say yes or no as seems best to us. We can be the masters of our own lives. By way of contrast, recognising that at times external help is required can be uncomfortable. While it may be a different way of speaking, what is happening in the case of that supermarket is a form of food censorship. Although we may not like that word it does highlight the tension between self-sufficiency and the need on occasions for external help.
Physical health is important. So too is emotional and spiritual health. What we put into our minds is as important as what we put into our mouths. When it comes to these other health concerns there can be an even greater tendency to resist the thought that here also we might at times need help other than that which we can provide by ourselves.
Recognising our own human weakness and frailty can ironically be a positive thing. The psalmist in Psalm 121 asks the question... from where does my help come? His answer is from the Lord, the maker of
heaven and earth. The season of Pentecost with the celebration of the outpouring of God's Holy Spirit promises the gift of that help. Among the qualities the Spirit seeks to bring into our lives is that of an inner strength that is not our own and whose peaceful fruits provide self-control.
A letter from the Bishop of Ludlow