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Distance and More

October 9, 2016 Click on the left end of the black bar to play/pause

October 9, 2016
Gospel: Luke 18:1-8
Fr. George Smiga

There are two things we learn about Jesus in today’s gospel, and both of them are important for our relationship with him. The first is this: Distance is no problem for Jesus. Today’s gospel tells us that when Jesus enters a village ten lepers met him and standing at a distance they called out, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us.” These lepers kept their distance from Jesus because that is what they were required to do. Infected with one of the most feared diseases of the ancient world, lepers were not allowed to mix in the general population. So these lepers could not run to Jesus, kneel before him and ask him to lay his hands on them to heal them. All they could do was to cry out from afar. But distance is no problem for Jesus. He does not have to touch the lepers to heal them. He sends them to the priests and as they are on their way their leprosy disappears.

Now whenever you or I are feeling in some way separated from God, we need to remember this story. Perhaps you normally don’t come to church but you came today and you are wondering, “Does God care for me? Will God help me?” Perhaps you are struggling with a habit of sin or carrying a heavy prejudice against others. Perhaps you know how many times you chose your own comfort rather than your responsibilities or your own desires over the needs of others. When these or any other factors make us feel separate from God, today’s gospel reminds us that God still cares for us and wants to heal us. Distance is no problem for Jesus. This is the first thing that today’s gospel tells us.

The second is even better. It tells us that Jesus gives us more than what we ask for. The ten lepers asked that they be healed, and their request is granted. But when one of them returns to give thanks he discovers that Jesus not only wants to cure him, he wants to save him, that Jesus not only intends to take his disease away, but calls him to be a disciple. Jesus says to him, “Stand up and go, your faith has saved you.” The same is true for us. Jesus wants to do more than simply heal us from our doubts, prejudices, and selfishness. Jesus wants to so fill us with his love that we become people of joy, energized to go out and tell other people how good God is. Jesus wants us to feel at home in a parish community, to love the people in that community, and to regularly praise God together with them.

Today’s gospel tells us that however separated we may feel from God, distance is no problem for Jesus. From where we stand we should cry out, “Jesus, Master, have pity on me.” We should believe that Jesus will hear us and heal us and draw us close. But then, we should be prepared. For Jesus has more in store for us. He is a healer who will call us to more than what we have asked for or imagined.

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