15 January 2009. Thursday of the 1st Week of Ordinary Time
Hebrew 3, 7-14; Psalm 95; Mark 1, 40-45
What strikes me today in the Gospel reading is that the leper said that he wanted to be cured IF Jesus would will it. And thus, Jesus declared that He did will it. So the leper was cured.
First, the leper approached Jesus and told him what he wanted. It is like asking for the obvious: of course, a leper wanted to be cured. You see, lepers were ostracized by the community. Anyone who got in contact with them became impure. Healing did not only mean physical and emotional well-being, it granted them entry into normal life with the community. The leper had to articulate what he most desired.
If we look closely at our relationships, we have friends whose need is obvious to us, but they are not convinced. Or, it could also be about ourselves. For example, we somehow feel that we have to let go of a relationship, but we continue to deny and bargain. Our inmost desires may not be as clear to ourselves — but may be clear to others. Many counselors say that in their practice, they have to wait for their client to see what they need and to articulate what they realized. They cannot be helped unless it is expressed in words. In prayer, this is important. We have to say what we want, even if God already knows what is good for us. Ignatius of Loyola said that we must specifically ask the grace we need from God; so that we would also know whether God has granted them in prayer.
Second, I admired what the leper said to Jesus: “If you will it.” I was talking to a couple whose daughter was in the operating room. They said that they found praying the Our Father difficult because they have to say, “Your will be done.” It was difficult because they were afraid that God’s will was different from their inmost desire for their daughter. Here, their desire for their daughter is definitely good.
Many desires of people are for the good of their loved one or their community. We desire safety and protection for our families. We desire meaning and happiness in our lives. We pine for financial stability. These are not evil desires. But to surrender them sometimes create a certain uneasiness — there lurks at the recesses of our hearts the fear that God’s will may be different and painful. For example, we would like to be always with the people we love. But sometimes, the people we love needed some ‘cooling off’ or some space for themselves. That would be painful and difficult, sometimes this ‘need’ is what we dreaded. Another example: many parents have been comfortable with the college course their children chose — until they begin to decide for themselves.
The leper, however, surrendered to God his most wanted need and thus gave God the prerogative. The attitude of the leper was that of deference: a humble submission and respect for the One who can heal him. Perhaps this is the attitude we learn: God will not want evil to happen to us but we to humble ourselves in deference to the Giver of our desires.
Finally, cure happens when there is a meeting of both our desires and God’s will. This is when we are attune with the heart of God. We are peaceful when what we will is also what God wills. In addition, Jesus also needs to articulate His desire for the leper and thus confirms the desire of the leper: “Yes, I will it.”
This is the reason why we discern. We would like to be clarified that our will is also God’s will. However, if we discover that God’s will is contrary to what we want, we, in great trust, obey Him nonetheless, knowing that God knows what is best and where we should be.