Meditation is an ideal way to pray. Using God's word (Lectio Divina) allows me to hear, listen and reflect on what the Lord wants to say to me - to one of his disciples - just like He did two thousand years ago.
The best time to reflect is at the beginning of the day and for at least 15 to 30 minutes.
Prior to going to sleep, read the Mass readings for the next day and then, in the morning, reflect on the Meditation offered on this website.
I hope these daily meditations allow you to know, love and imitate the Lord in a more meaningful way.
God bless you!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Lk 17:11-49 Skeptics, Converts, and Lepers

Wednesday of the Thirty-Second Week in Ordinary Time


Ten were cleansed, were they not?
Where are the other nine?
Has none but this foreigner returned to give thanks to God?”
Then he said to him, “Stand up and go;
your faith has saved you.”

On his way Jerusalem, Jesus heals ten lepers who ask Him to have mercy on them. Only one, a Samaritan, returns to thank Jesus for this miracle. The others move along without showing such gratitude. At first, this is utterly baffling. How could such people, doomed to have their skin rot off and die an early death, not thank the man who saved them from such a fate? Even if they felt unsure about him, would they not at least thank him out of fear of returning to their former condition? As it stands, they do not thank Jesus, nor do they even inquire about their cure. The simply go to the temple—one would assume—never even looking back, as though doing so would turn them into a pillar of salt.

The nine lepers who depart from the scene experienced a miracle, a new life, and cleansed body, yet they move along unchanged. They may not have leprosy again, but they will die at some point when they could have had eternal life with Jesus. They contented themselves with a few more years on this earth, making the most of what little they had left. In having this attitude, they successfully waste one of Jesus' greatest miracles in the gospels.

Why do they do this? They probably do this for the same reasons most people do not thank their rescuers. They simply do not want to think about their past ailments, even if these illnesses afflicted them just a few moments before. Leprosy left them weak and ostracized not only from their community, but also from God. Their teachers convinced them that they suffered from leprosy because God did not like them, and they accepted this conclusion in spite of God Himself curing them. Stubbornly clinging to their own conception of God and their own understanding of life, they do not want to consider the possibility that they might have been wrong about God and themselves for so long. They choose rather to forget about it and attribute their impossible cure to chance. This conclusion keeps their ego intact, sparing it from the difficulties of introspection or the humiliation of gratitude.

Many people today experience innumerable blessings, countless miracles, and so many invitations to join Christ's banquet; yet, blind to all that they have received, they assume, like the lepers, that they have received nothing, and if they did, they could not attribute it to their Creator. Profoundly protective of their ego, these skeptics attribute their health and prosperity to good luck and personal discipline. If they discover that God Himself showered all the benefits and opportunities, they would have to change their way of life and humble themselves before a greater power. Even if God stood right behind them, as Jesus stood behind the lepers, they would not look back because they are afraid of what might have been true all along.

Only the Samaritan, the one with an openness to God the Savior, turns back and thanks Jesus. Strangely, Jesus treats to this rather natural response as a conversion, telling the Samaritan, Your faith has saved you.” As with the other nine lepers whose departure symbolized the spiritual movement of skeptics, the Samaritan's return symbolizes the spiritual reality of the convert. The convert seeks the truth and receives it with gratitude; he opens his heart and changes the direction of his life. St. Paul, a convert par excellence, in his letter to Titus freely admits the evil of his past life, claiming that he was “foolish, disobedient, deluded, [a] slave to various desires and pleasures, living in malice and envy.” Just as easily, he admits that Jesus saved him from this past life. Like the Samaritan, Paul does nothing except give thanks and humble himself to God. Additionally, he makes a point to do this everyday and recommends the same for others.

The story of the ten lepers, and Paul's own conversion, proves that even a miracle will not convert a man, but only a pure heart—“Blessed are the pure of heart, for the will see God.” The outer corruption of the lepers manifest a corruption within: a thankless, closed disposition. Just as the body rots from this disease, the soul rots from this selfish delusion. Just as the leper lives in physical isolation, the skeptic lives in spiritual isolation.

Fortunately, one of the ten did convert and find salvation both for his body and his soul. This offers a ray of hope for the other nine. They may still return, and experience the joy of the Samaritan, the convert. They must try to open their hearts and have faith, regardless of its apparent impossibility; Christ will take care of the rest and do the impossible as He always does. Once he becomes a part of the Church, the convert may then follow Paul and renew his conversion everyday, and heal others just had Christ healed him. This is the only way true evangelization can succeed.

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