Greetings from St. Matthias’ Hermitage.
I pray that my words today may indeed be what the Holy Spirit wishes for you and me. There is so much “Church stuff” swirling around these days. The temptation to make this a pulpit for my own beliefs is fortunately one alluring topic that I can bypass for the time being. There is a message in the readings today which supersedes all the Ecclesial-Political debating.
Both the first reading from the Book of Leviticus - the Jewish book of laws - and Mark’s account of a serious issue and how Jesus addressed it within the context of a cure. Buried in the Marcan gospel account a reality that has significance. It is this: Jesus uses his power of healing, of miraculous curing, for a disease more painful in its social consequences than in the actual physical impact upon a person’s body to teach us that miracles have a very distinct spiritual purpose. Events that are beyond the powers of medicine are meant to teach us how we should live our lives.
Considering the miracle of curing a man’s leprosy, we should see that there are several aspects of the event not to be overlooked. One’s faith is an important factor. In many of his recorded miracles, Jesus acknowledges that faith of the person seeking Jesus’ assistance for him/herself or another person, usually a family member or loved one. The leper, the woman who simply wanted to touch Jesus’ garment to obtain a cure for her all too frequent menstrual periods, the several different parents seeking relief for their sick or dying children, the widow whose only son had died too early, even the sisters of Lazarus: they believed that all Jesus had to do was will that their requested need be granted. Genuine faith that Jesus could bring about what they truly believed he could do is so characteristic of these needy people.
Today so many terminal illnesses exist. How many times do we hear words such as these: “We need to pray for a miracle to save....” As a priest, I rarely have a day when someone does not ask me to pray for someone who needs a miracle to save his/her life. Those requests do lead me to ask myself about the depth and strength of my own faith. Am I as grounded in Jesus Christ as those mentioned earlier in this posting? Is my life lived within the gospels as Jesus taught?
In the quiet of our hearts, I believe, this gospel story as well as others are challenges to many of us. We are called to examine the strength of our faith not just in Lent but every day. Is our faith strong enough to help us accept and live the Ten Commandments and the various teachings of our Church which, as we know, are not always accepted. Does our faith make it easier to value the Seven Sacraments? Each of us lives in a state of life that has expectations because of that state of life. At times, for sure, these challenges are mountains we have to climb and they are not always easy. However, our faith teach us that God is a god of abundant graces.