Yesterday and again today, St. John's words in the first reading of the liturgy are reminders to us that the person who believes Jesus is the Son of God is one who can conquer the world! Many would read these words and say, "Sure, it is easy for some but not for me. Believing is not so easy." The gospel event Luke presents to us certainly makes it seem to be quite easy. The leper comes to Jesus and says "Lord, if you wish, you can make me clean." One touch of Jesus' hand on the man and a miraculous event: "the leprosy left him immediately. Wow! Wouldn't faith be easy if we could experience the same when we are in need for ourselves or others? Sure would! But, here we are today and every day, our faith is so often challenged.
Yesterday I learned that a friend, a hygienist who had just recently cleansed my teeth, had encountered a genuine moment of testing not only for herself but for her family and friends as well. Only in her early thirties, Paige recently learned that she is a victim of CJD (Creutzfied-Jakob Disease). The prognosis for her is not recovery but just how long she will live. CJD is a disease that attacks the brain -- thus it is linked to dementia. A protein in the brain, prion, beings to fold the cells on the brains in on themselves thus creating holes in the brain. Eventually and quickly the brain becomes dysfunctional. Death is a certain outcome. No cures known.
What a test of faith this is for this young mother of 8 year old twins and her husband as well as herself. Family and friends all are asking the same question: why? why? why? How can God let this happen to such a wonderful woman, mother, wife and person who helps others? Wouldn't it me spectacular if someone could just say a prayer over her and immediately the disease would end and the brain would be returned to its previous healthy state?
How many among us have had to deal with such tragedies? How many are there who run smack into a brick wall: terminal, no cure, nothing can be done?
Recently dealing with a wife whose husband has brain cancer (similar to the type of cancer that took Senator Ted Kennedy from us). What faith this wife and mother has! She told me that while there is no cure for her husband's brain cancer according to the medical profession, she continues to believe that there is always the reality that there are cures, miraculous interventions by God in the lives of those who are seemingly destined for an early death. We would not have as many saints as we have today in our Church had there not been those who prayed so intently on behalf of the sick person that God must have been convinced that there was in the prayers a manifestation of genuine faith, genuine belief in Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
Please join me in praying for Dr. Paige, two others, Jim and Pat, all who are designated as patients with terminal illnesses. As well, can we not choose someone for whom the process of canonization is underway as our intercessor for these loving people who are so hurting. I know that the canonization process is currently underway for a Jesuit priest, friend and mentor, Fr. Walter Ciszek, SJ. Today I began my prayers to him for Paige, Jim and Pat.
There is a question in my heart: do we Catholics who profess such a strong belief in Jesus Christ as the Son of God, do we truly believe that he can come and heal those who are so sick? Do you really believe in such miracles? Do we believe that the journey of petition prayer will lead to a realization of the goal or are we distracted by different realities of life along the route?