“I turn to you, Lord, in times of trouble, and you fill me with the joy of salvation.” Ps 32

Life_Giving Faith.pdf

It is interesting the liturgical readings for the fifth and sixth Sundays in Ordinary Time are actually preparing us for the season of Lent, which happens to immediately follow these. The themes resonating from the Scriptures speak to the realities of challenges faced by many, including restlessness and rejection. Yet, these challenges are overcome through the healing ministry of Jesus and the hope of salvation.

Restlessness

The Book of Job is an incredible story from the Old Testament detailing the experience of a man completely committed to God, whose life is filled with utter tragedy and loss. He is strong in faith and perseveres, yet he asks questions that we too may ask out of hopelessness. He expresses restlessness, comparing it to a slave laboring for hours; longing for shade from the heat of the sun. Despair is creeping in. Job poses the question, “When shall I arise?” Ask yourself, “When have I been exhausted from the challenges, longing for peace? Is hope extinguished? Am I restless? If so, what is the root of this restlessness?

Rejection

We also hear in the Book of Leviticus the origin of the law restricting those with leprosy to a life of exile and isolation. One can only imagine the despair of the people with leprosy, the sadness of their family and the outright rejection by the larger community. If a person touched another with leprosy, that person was deemed unclean. The reading itself is quite descriptive, causing one to cringe. Understanding the terrible effects of such a disease, one may say, “Do you blame the Israelites for having extreme law?” But think of a time when people treated you as if you had a communicable disease? Rejection is a forerunner to the realm of hopelessness.

Healing

Yet within the storm filled with despair and isolation, there is hope and healing. Jesus, the holiest one, reaches and grasps what is drowning us. We, as living missionary disciples, are called to run into the storm and help. St. Paul reminds us of the call to mission. Spreading the Gospel message is more than volunteerism. Rather, it is an enormous obligation for all baptized Christians to share in the hope of Jesus, especially when others are in need of healing.

Jesus’ healing ministry is seen throughout the Gospels, particularly in the liturgy of the coming weeks. We read, “He grasped the hand of Simon’s mother-in-law and helped her up. Then the fever left her …” (Mk 1:31) and upon the request from the man with leprosy, “Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand, touched him, and said to him, ‘I do will it. Be made clean’ ” (Mk 1:41). We can easily embrace the first miracle, yet the second is more challenging. What’s easier, to touch someone with a to touch someone with leprosy? These are two powerful healings, and with one touch of Jesus, they are healed. “Jesus reaches across the divide and conquers the unclean by the great power of holiness.” (“Ignatius Catholic Study Bible, New Testament) “Praise the Lord who heals the brokenhearted” (Ps 147).

The hope of our mission

There is hope in Jesus, who saves. We are called to share this hope of salvation with joyful hearts. St. Paul writes, “Do everything for the glory of God … that they may be saved … imitate Christ.” (1 Cor 10:31-11:1) The purpose of our life is to imitate Jesus through humble service. Our actions and words should point to the glory of God. As we ponder what to “do” or “give up” for Lent, consider healing and hope. First, where am I in need of healing? Have I received the sacrament of reconciliation to be healed from the burden of sin? Do I seek the holy healing from the divine physician, Jesus? Whom do I know that is either physically or spiritually ill? How can I invite them to the healing power of Christ?

Second, am I a voice of hope for all to hear? Do I share the hope of God with those who are struggling with isolation, rejection and despair? How can I reach across the divide and share the hope in our mission saying, “Jesus loves you. You matter. He wants to heal you.”

As we prepare for the season of Lent, let us joyfully thank God for our salvific hope in Jesus Christ.

*(Be on the lookout for “2018: The Light Is ON For You” media outreach during Lent. “How-to” resources and videos will be available to download and share.)