Jesus Christ has power.
He can do things that no other human being has ever done.
He has power over life and death.
The leper in today’s gospel heard stories of this power.
We don’t know how long this man had been a leper
but word of Jesus’ power stirred his imagination of being freed from his curse,
maybe stirring hopes of returning to his home and family.
This leper looks for and finds Jesus, approaches him,
and acknowledging his power says “If you wish, you can make me clean.”
In essence the leper is saying “I know you have power. Please use it for my benefit.”
And as quickly as Jesus says “I do will it; be made clean”
the man is cured of his affliction.
If Jesus is Son of God, and the will of Jesus is the will of God,
is it God’s will that all lepers be made clean or just this one?
We do hear of Jesus healing other lepers….making them clean.
Is it because they interacted with him personally
…because they had the opportunity and privilege to be in his physical presence
….talk to him directly?
Can we assume that everyone who came to Jesus got what they wanted?
What about the time people in need were lined up at the door where Jesus spent the night.
He slips out under cover of darkness, spends the night in prayer,
and the next day moves on to the next town even though his disciples communicate to him
that people were waiting for him, looking for him, back at the house.
Did they miss their window of opportunity by way of their own fault?
I know people today who no longer come to church, no longer pray,
no longer claim any association to Jesus….because they didn’t get what they wanted.
They prayed and prayed that a loved one be healed of cancer
and the love one dies of that cancer?
They prayed to meet a decent man or woman, they prayed to get a good job,
they prayed their children would return to the faith,
they prayed that family members would be protected from danger….
and when their prayers weren’t answered,
they hardened their hearts against God, abandoned their faith and have never returned.
If I believe that Jesus has power, if I acknowledge this power, submit to this power,
ask for the benefit of this power and nothing I can perceive comes of it…
have I misunderstood something? Is my faith weak? Have I done something wrong and is God punishing me by ignoring me, denying me?
Now many people get around these questions…find comfort in the statement
“there’s a reason for everything.”
I’m very cautious when it comes to this statement. If there is a reason, there is a purpose.
And that purpose is God’s purpose.
Well, we are not puppets of God’s purpose.
If we were, why would he give us the gift of freedom?
I know I’ve opened a can of worms here. I don’t know but I continue to search
for the answers to such questions.
I can say a few things: Christian faith is not magic.
We do not manipulate and or control supernatural and divine power by our prayers.
We benefit from God’s love and grace
but we don’t determine when and how and how much is given.
And the mission of the Catholic Church is not to cure lepers.
The mission of the Catholic Church is to proclaim and give witness to the reality of Jesus Christ.
He lived. He taught. He healed. He forgave. He suffered. He died. And he rose from the dead.
In and through these Jesus gives insight into the activity of God, into the ways of God.
Our faith in him will always entail mystery,
but I hope it also entails confidence and hope that in Him,
love and goodness are victorious over evil and sin.
I have found no other force or person in the world, within world history,
that provides such a benefit to and for humanity.
Our prayer today: “O Lord, I want to experience the benefit of Your love and grace for the healing of my body, mind and soul. Help me to remember: a healed body will not get me into heaven. A loving and faithful relationship with Jesus Your Son will. Amen!”
1st Week in Ordinary Time
Jesus Christ has power.