Sunday’s First Reading and Gospel both center on people who were afflicted with leprosy. At the time of Jesus, it was a feared and horrible disease and even today has the ability to freak people out.
The question that kept running through my mind as I pondered those readings and their applicability to you and me is this: “Have you ever been healed by Jesus?”
I would have to say for myself, “Yes!” It happened on a retreat many years ago. I was struggling with a decision to change … I knew I needed to change but didn’t want to. I was confused and angry and kinda yelled out at God, “Dammit, will you help me!?!” At that moment it was as though someone touched my cheek and an enormous wave of peace washed over me. In my mind I heard the words: “Herb, it’s OK … I understand.” That was the moment that I came to understand the depth of the mercy and compassion of Jesus. When Pope Francis speaks of those qualities, it thrills me no end!!!
But I know there has been other healings in my life. Way back in sixthgrade, I was badly burned and was in the hospital for a couple weeks. I still remember this orderly named Scotty who would walk in with a little bag of candy and a huge smile. Boy, I looked forward to his shifts!
I remember my doctor who helped me quit smoking some 20 years ago. I remember the psychologist who counseled me through a two-year depression. I read a highly influential book by Adrian Van Kaam called “Spirituality and the Gentle Life.” On bad days, parishioners in hospitals would heal me when I went to visit them. A Provincial set me on a new way of prayer when I thought I never could pray again. The elders here at St. Paul’s have a constant healing effect on my life by their deep sense of gratitude.
Remember those times … large and small … and like the tenthleper and Namaan the Syrian, please don’t forget to be grateful.
Know that I am very grateful for you!!!
Fr. Herb, C.S.C.