Thursday, February 18, 2010

Lenten Self-Defense Against Spiritual Leprosy - Part One



As Jesus continued his journey to Jerusalem, he traveled through Samaria and Galilee.
As he was entering a village, ten lepers met him.
They stood at a distance from him and raised their voice, saying, “Jesus, Master! Have pity on us!”
And when he saw them, he said, “Go show yourselves to the priests.”
As they were going they were cleansed.
And one of them, realizing he had been healed, returned, glorifying God in a loud voice; and he fell at the feet of Jesus and thanked him.
He was a Samaritan.
Jesus said in reply, “Ten were cleansed, were they not?  Where are the other nine?  Has none but this foreigner returned to give thanks to God?”
Then he said to him, “Stand up and go; your faith has saved you.”
From the holy Gospel according to Luke [17:11-19]

If someone asks us about the disappointments and prob­lems in our lives, we all can immediately rattle off a long list of them:
  • I’m tired.
  • I’ve got too much to do.
  • My husband is useless about helping me with the laundry and shopping.
  • My wife and kids are driving me crazy.
  • The people I work with are lazy or stupid or both.
  • I’m over-weight: I need to go on a diet.
  • My shoes are killing me.
  • The world is going to Hell in a hand basket.
If someone asks us about the things that are good and going well in our lives, we draw a blank, and it takes time for us to name a few of those good things in our lives. 

Some of us never allow ourselves to know what it  was like for that tenth Leper – the Samaritan – the one who realized the value of what he had received from Our Lord Jesus, and ran back to tell Him.
 
Instead, we are like the grandfather in the story about the grandfather who takes his 4-year-old granddaughter for a day at the beach.  The little girl is outfitted with her sun suit, sun hat, pail and shovel.  After setting up a spot on the beach, the little girl got right to work playing with the sand.  Grandpa slowly dozed off.   Hours passed before he woke. Then, he jumps to his feet. There is no sign of his granddaughter – only her shovel floating in the surf.  She must have fallen into the surf and drowned.  The grandfather falls to his knees in tears, and from the center of his heart, he begs God: “Please God! Please! Bring back my granddaughter to me.  I’m sorry I fell asleep! Please God! Please!”
Suddenly, the little girl appears, standing at the edge of the foamy waves breaking on the shore, holding her little pail.  She happily skips over to her grandfather, who scoops her up and  showers her with kisses and hugs.  And so, the grandfather begins collecting their things to go home.  But he looks up and down the beach, appearing very annoyed.  He then looks up to Heaven and shouts to God, “Hey! Where’s her hat?”

Like the grandfather and the nine former-lepers, many of us fail to recognize how much we have  received – and are still receiving –  from God.  We fail to appreciate the  pricelessness and power of the possessions we have been given by God.  And the result of this failure?
We mourn what we do not have: "I don’t have a 64-Inch Plasma TV."
We wallow in disappointment: "I didn’t win the Lottery again."
We are cynical, distrustful, isolated, self-absorbed.

But, a person who claims to have faith in Jesus Christ should not have these attitudes!
Cynicism, distrust, self-centeredness should have no place in the mind and heart of a person committed to living our Catholic Faith. 

(To Be Continued…)

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