Leviticus 13: 1-2, 44-46; I Corinthians 10:31-11:1; Psalm 32; Mark 1:40-45
In our lesson from St. Mark’s Gospel, the leper says, “If you will to do so, you can cure me.” And Jesus answers, “I do will it. Be cured.” It is God’s will that we be cured, that we be healed, and sometimes it is as complete and instantaneous as that of this leper, and sometimes it is not. Being truly healed is not only about physical ailments, it is about our heart, mind, will and spirit. It is also about showing forth the glory of God, witnessing to God’s benevolent working in the world. Even though told by Our Lord, “Not a word to anyone, now.” The healed leper went off proclaiming what had happened to everyone. Now, I am not say that he should have done that, but he did. Do we? Do we give God the credit for what happens in our lives, for answered prayer, for healing, for forgiveness, for the strength to get through each day, the peace of sleep at night? Do we even ask for these things on a regular basis? And if not, why not?
In our second lesson St. Paul writes, “…whatever you do – you should do all for the glory of God.” Whatever we do – that means everything: washing dishes, taking out the trash, homework, paying bills, raising children, cooking meals, laundry, whatever job we may have – all should be done for the glory of God. Our health or our illness, or disability are also to be used for the glory of God, as a witness to God.
Whenever we ask for healing from God, we receive it. We don’t, however, always receive the healing we ask for. That might seem a contradictory and confusing statement, but it really isn’t. We may ask, “God please heal my arthritis.” And instead of that we are relieved of a long-standing bitterness toward a neighbor, and we find that with a clean heart the pain is easier to bear. Yes, it is God’s will to heal us, but only God knows what healing we really need. We place far too much importance on physical health and comfort in our society. As you all know I have been reading a lot of books by 19th century women authors, anywhere from about 1800 to 1880, and the things these people simply took for granted as normal would prostrate most Americans of the 21st century. No running water, no toilets, no heat except in principal rooms, certainly not bedrooms. Heavy, bunchy, uncomfortable clothes that had to be taken apart to be cleaned or washed, if they could be cleaned or washed. No waterproof clothing, if it rained you got wet, you got chilblains, which are a sort of blistering of the fingers and toes from the cold, that were excruciating when they got warm. No social safety net, if you had bad luck and lost your job, you starved, or went to the workhouse. Infant mortality was high, if a woman had ten children, she would be lucky if half reached adulthood. All of these were simply everyday things, not great tragedies, no one was complaining about them, they simply were, as much in the lives of the authors as the people they wrote about. I am often ashamed of the things I complain about, they seem so trivial, compared to the world at that time, and to many people in the world today, we, all of us, live lives of almost unthinkable ease, comfort and plenty. It is because of this that I think we have a hard time resting wholly on Divine Providence, because we don’t really believe that God IS our only strength, our only help. And we really need to get over this. We need to turn to God in everything, nothing is too insignificant to lay before Our Heavenly Father for, as we pray in the Prayer upon Retiring, “… healing, for reconciling, for forgiveness and as an offering.” We should not take our ease and comfort for granted, when was the last time we thanked God for heat, or running water, or a roof that doesn’t leak? For adequate clothing, warm socks, hot coffee? All the things that, for us, are simply there? For us, more perhaps than any other people, the fasting seasons of the Church are so important. And I think it would be a good idea to include more than food in our fasting. How about fasting from some of the other good things we have in such abundance? Television, the internet, cell phones, a car, electric lights, recorded music, hot water. I am not suggesting turning back the clock, if I had lived in the 18th or 19th century I would most likely have died young, I am suggesting nurturing a thankful heart for all of the things we take for granted by doing without them for a while.
God wills for us to be healed, to be whole, we must first admit that we are broken, that we are not self-sufficient, that all we have is God’s gift, especially life itself. And if we accept from God in faith and trust what we see as good, we must also accept what we see as bad, because we do not see as God sees. We must be grateful for the trials, tribulations, troubles and woes, as well as the blessings and joys. If we have given our life to God, then whatever our life is we must trust that it is for our ultimate good and God’s glory, and like the leper in our Gospel lesson, we must not be reticent about giving God the glory for it.
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