In today’s Gospel proclamation we see our Lord Jesus meet ten lepers. In those days, being a leper meant that one was in a hopeless situation. Besides the horror of the disfiguring of bodies, leprosy was associated with loneliness and helplessness. Regardless of how loved they were, and like Naaman in the first reading, no matter how rich or powerful they were, they would not be spared the curse of the disease. They were sent to the desert to live without human contact. For such people, a visitation from our Lord provides hope and a light like no other.
Those of us who are in desperate circumstances, like the lepers, are reminded that we can have the same experience of visitation of the Lord as we go for Mass, sit before the Blessed Sacrament, go for confession, or sit in silence and open our hearts to him in personal prayer. How many of us do these things but continue to live in hopelessness and desperation. What did the ten lepers do differently? They approached the Lord with expectant faith. Then they refused to accept their senses, their understanding and emotions as real. Instead, they accepted the Word of God as real. Whenever we take the Lord at his word, there is an initial period of darkness, where all we have is the assurance of his word. Our senses, intellect and emotions will not collaborate the word of the Lord. Yet as we act upon the word, the breakthroughs will come, and the reality of the world of the Spirit will break into the material world.
Though we receive many healings from the Lord, the enthusiasm created by such an experience can be short lived, as our nature takes over our desire to deepen our relationship with the Lord. We too, like the nine lepers, get on with our usual way of life. The grateful leper’s action proved that he believed that it was the Lord Jesus who healed him. He placed the Lord Jesus at the highest point of his life and at that moment he became a worshipper and received God’s favor upon his life.
In the second reading we find St. Paul, who was once a respected figure in the society, a respected Pharisee looked up to by good religious people, now chained and thrown into prison, and treated like a common criminal. Under normal circumstances, this would have been a curse like leprosy. However, for the one in a relationship with the Lord, a crisis is something that opens the gates to a divine experience. St. Paul discovers “that the Word of God is not chained” (2 Timothy 2:9), and because of the suffering he endures, “the elect” experience the saving power that is in our Lord Jesus Christ.
Prayer: Abba Father, give me the grace to go beyond the answers to my leprosy, and discover the true blessing of a relationship with you. Amen.