A leper came to him and kneeling down begged him and said, “If you wish, you can make me clean.”
I have always found this comment from the leper to be very interesting. “If you wish…” Of course the Lord wants to heal this poor leper. But the question is, “Does the leper want to be healed?”
Yesterday, while celebrating Mass, I asked a group of elementary school students what would be the worst thing a mom could do to their screaming child that threw a fit over a chocolate bar in the checkout line of a grocery store. One little girl, with the sweetest little heart, said to me, “Spank her child?” I said to her, “Darling, that wouldn’t be the worst thing. That would be the best thing!”
About a month ago, an elderly couple came to me and told me about their young granddaughter’s on-going problems. She is a young lady, in her early twenties. She was thrown out of her single parent’s home and recently moved in with them. Before agreeing to let her live with them, they set some pretty straight forward rules, conditions. She has consistently broken all of them. By the time the couple decided to come speak to me, they had had enough. The first condition was that she would attend college as a full-time student. By the middle of the semester, she had dropped out of two classes and was now a part-time student. The second condition was that she would go to Church with them. She did, for a couple of weeks, and then gave an excuse every Sunday after that. Of course drugs were out of the question, but her grandparents smelled some weed on her clothes and realized that she had broken this promise too. The last straw was when they found a used condom in their bedroom. They came to me asking me what they should do. I told them the truth. I told them, “Throw her out of the house.” Thank God they were in agreement. Sometimes, it’s not an easy sell. Sometimes parents and grandparents, aunts and uncles, enable their loved ones to sin again and again and again by enabling their loved ones to cover their sins and live a comfortable life in sin.
When we try to live according to what Jesus said, we need to carefully reflect and meditate on everything that Jesus said. We have grown accustomed to saying that Jesus always forgives us, seven times seventy-seven times. We forget the part where Jesus says, “Go and sin no more!” If we set no conditions in life; if we live without the Lord’s commandments, then forgiveness becomes something cheap and meaningless. But if we judge accordingly, based on Christ’s commandments, then forgiveness is grace?
“If you wish, you can make me clean…” The Lord does want us to be clean. But the question really is, “Do you? Will you do whatever it takes to be made clean? Will you do what it takes to help others be made clean?”
The vast majority of our young people have good brains and good hearts. Even with all our horrible catechesis, young people know the difference between right and wrong, and very few of them want to offend the Lord. But the problem with our young people today is that they have muscle atrophy – they don’t have the strength to avoid falling into sin. It must be horrible to know right from wrong, to not want to offend the Lord and yet to not have the courage and the strength to live up to your convictions and God’s commandments!
What to do? Every day, pray to God and renew your commitments, your promises, to the Lord. If you break them, be tough on yourself (punishments that require some type of monetary compensation really work well). Ask someone to be an accountability partner. Do whatever it takes (legally) to remove the temptation from your life. Start each day as if it were the first day. Don’t keep track of your performance, for pride can easily creep in. Remove the lock on your door. Remove any passwords from your computer or phone. Do not allow yourself to hide from your shame. Put to light all things. Be the first to admit to a fall and not the last to admit to it. Allow the Lord to bless you and your home.
Jesus preached the Gospel of the Kingdom and cured every disease among the people. What we don’t know is how many of them returned to their former way of life? The Lord always gives. Now it is time to do the same.