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Monday, third week of Lent

March 28, 2011

Blessed Monday!

God of mercy,
free Your Church from sin and protect it from evil.
Guide us, for we cannot be saved without You.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son,
Who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit,
one God forever and ever.  Amen.
(Opening prayer of today’s Mass)

2 Kings 5:1-15 (Elisha cures Naaman the leper)
Psalm 42:2, 3, 43: 3, 4 “My soul is thirsting for the living God;
when shall I see him face to face?”
+Luke 4:24-30 (Jesus is rejected in His hometown)

Sometimes healing hurts.

That can be good news or bad news, depending our faith.
If we believe that the suffering is leading to healing, we gain hope,
making the suffering much easier to bear.
If we do not believe, we will rebuff the source of pain,
thereby rebuffing the source of healing,
and we’ll never get well.

He did not work many miracles there because of their lack of faith
-Matthew 13:58

Naaman, the prestigious commander of the Aramean army, suffered humiliation.
Elisha did not even deign to greet him personally.
He sent a servant to advise this great leader
to lower himself into the muddy waters of the Jordan
to be washed clean of his leprosy.

Naaman did not believe.
Surely, if washing was the key, the pure rivers of his own country were more suitable!
He was in the process of turning away in anger when his servants
(accustomed to humiliation as they were)
pleaded with him to reconsider.
Surely this small suffering deserved a chance?

To his credit, Naaman heeded his own, bore the humiliation,
and was healed.

Jesus’ fellow townsmen did not fare so well.
They, too, were invited to the humility of faith,
to being shown up by pagan foreigners
and by “the boy next door.”
They responded by trying to hurl Jesus off of a cliff
throwing away any chance they might’ve had for healing..

We are faced with this same choice on a regular basis.
God has sent His servants to us
to advise us to lower ourselves into the waters of the confessional,
where He will hear us through the ears of an imperfect priest
and cleanse us of the leprosy of sin.
Usually, this is “the priest next door,”
whose faults and foibles we know all too well.
Maybe he’s a foreigner who can’t be expected to understand.

It doesn’t matter.

This humility, this suffering, this faith
leads to healing.

We can rebuff it with the idea that confessing directly to God
(washing in the clean rivers of Damascus, the Abana and the Pharpar)
is a much more suitable means of healing.
We can attack the messenger, or simply turn away.

But it won’t work.
God knows what He’s about.
If God had asked of you some heroic act of atonement,
you would have done it, wouldn’t you?
How much more, when He simply asks that you confess and be healed,
should you do what He says.

So learn to pray to God
in such a way that you are trusting Him as your Physician
to do what He knows is best.
Confess to Him your disease, and let Him choose the remedy.
Then hold tight to love, for what He does will cut and sting you.
You may cry out, and your cries may not stop the cutting,
the burning, and the pain;
yet He knows how deep the festering flesh lies.
While you want Him to take His hands off you,
He considers only the extent of the infection;
He knows how far He must go.
He is not listening to you according to what you want,
but according to what will heal you.
-St. Augustine of Hippo (who should know!)

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