13 October 2019
2 Kings 5:14-17
2 Timothy 2:8-13
Your faith has healed you
Today, both the first reading and the Gospel are about lepers being healed. How does this parable relate to me and the world of the 21st century?
With the help of Google, I learned that today about 180,000 people worldwide, most in Africa and Asia, are infected with leprosy, a slow growing type of bacteria. This is an infectious disease that can only transferred from close repeated contact with the nose and mouth droplets of someone with untreated leprosy. Leprosy causes severe, disfiguring skin sores and nerve damage in the arms, legs, and skin areas around the body and dates back to ancient times, often surrounded by terrifying, negative stigmas with lepers shunned as outcasts. Outbreaks of leprosy have affected, and panicked, people on every continent. The oldest civilizations of China, Egypt, and India feared leprosy was an incurable, mutilating, and contagious disease.
Because leprosy is/was such a visual disease, it is a perfect choice for parables.
When I hear the word leprosy, my thoughts immediately go to biblical and ancient times, and Fr. Damien in the Hawaiian Islands. I remember the movie ‘Ben Hur’ from 1959, and the moving scene when we see that Miriam and Tirzah have been healed of their leprosy as they stand in the rivers of rain streaming down the hill, mixed with the blood of Jesus, after His crucifixion.
In Luke, only one of the 10 returns to thank Jesus – I’ve always thought the other 9 were cured but were so caught up in the happiness of no longer being disfigured that their gratitude wasn’t initially evident. Upon reflection, a few others thoughts crossed my mind. Did only one REALIZE he’d been cured? Was only one cured because he had faith? The lepers asked for pity, not healing – so did only one even think healing was possible?
And — the most personal — where do I have leprosy in my own life? Where have I been healed of internal leprosy and not been thankful, thinking that my self determination, my will power, my intelligence, my… whatever is what ‘fixed’ me, when it fact it was His grace showing me mercy?
When have I been like the other nine and not recognized the grace? Not shown gratitude for His mercy? The answer is evident. Every day. Every single day.
So how does the parable relate to us today, in the 21st century?
In today’s world we are so bombarded with books and podcasts, and even prosperity gospel sermons shouting to us that we have the power, that self-help is the answer. We can ‘fix’ ourselves, the sky is the limit, power of the mind, power of habit, power of intention, power of these 6 steps, power of these 11 laws, power of getting out of the boat, power of vision boards, power of self talk…… power of You’re Okay, I’m Okay (a best seller from the 1970s). And therein lies the great lie. All those books and podcasts speak much human truth, we should adhere to the wisdom they contain, but we must stop short of a total buy-in. We cannot predict, nor even truly design our future. We do what we can and see where and how God comes in.
After all, if you and I were actually ‘okay’, then we wouldn’t need a Savior. But we aren’t, and we do, and we have one! And THAT, brothers and sisters, is the Good News.
(Today’s Oxygen by Gina Ulicny)
Prayer: Father God you are the Good Help, the Good Hope, the Only All, True, Loving God. And we are amazed at your perfect and perfecting love.
Thanksgiving: Thank you for your abounding grace and the mercy that flows from that grace all over us every day. Every single day. We pray that we will give grace and mercy to all those around us.