January 15, 2015

The Gospel Today

Thursday of the First Week in Ordinary Time

Mark 1:40-45

A leper came to him and kneeling down begged him and said,
“If you wish, you can make me clean.”
Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand,
touched the leper, and said to him,
“I do will it. Be made clean.”
The leprosy left him immediately, and he was made clean.
Then, warning him sternly, he dismissed him at once.
Then he said to him, “See that you tell no one anything,
but go, show yourself to the priest
and offer for your cleansing what Moses prescribed;
that will be proof for them.”
The man went away and began to publicize the whole matter.
He spread the report abroad
so that it was impossible for Jesus to enter a town openly.
He remained outside in deserted places,
and people kept coming to him from everywhere.
Reflection (Sem. Jul Elden D. Nuique):
            In the letter to the Hebrews, the inspired author says, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, as on the day of testing in the wilderness, where your ancestors put me to the test, though they had seen my works for forty years (cf Heb 3, 7-9, NRSV).” The author recalls the book of Numbers, where the Lord asks Moses, “How long will this people despise me?  And how long will they refuse to believe in me, in spite of all the signs that I have done among them? (cf Num 14, 11, NRSV)”  Here, I am reminded of the many times that God shows His love for me, in gifts small and great – from each breath I take to every move I make – and my continued request for proofs of His providence, whenever I find myself unable to fulfill my self-made plans.            On the other hand, the author of Mark’s Gospel tells us that, “A leper came to [Jesus] begging him, ‘If you choose, you can make me clean. (Mk 1, 40, NRSV)’” The trust shown by the leper for Jesus’ capability to heal is astounding!  What is even more astonishing is how he begs the Lord saying, “If you choose”; he does not force his will upon God but waits for the gift to be given to him.  This is a far cry from my attitude of looking for divine proofs and being unappreciative of continuous gifts from God.            In November of last year, I made the mistake of going out for a while during one of our apostolate weekends and neglecting to tell my companions that I had already returned.  As that happened at night, they were worried sick about what might have happened to me, especially as it was getting close to midnight without a notice from me.  The following day, I apologized to all of them and, justifiably, I received a stern reprimand from my superiors in seminary formation.  As I nursed my wounds from the tongue-lashing that I got, I was complaining heavily to the Lord, about how He failed to guide me to act properly; alternately, I was also begging him to get me out of the mess I was in, to make everything all right.  I even told Him that I might not be fit for this priestly life, that He made a mistake in calling me to this vocation, and that I would probably be better off spending myself on some other venture.  After hours of this tirade in prayer, God calmly reminded me that He was the one who called me to become a priest.  Even before I thought about the possibility of this vocation and responded, He already prepared everything for me.  Even before I grew in self-knowledge and learned about the existence of my weaknesses and deficits, He already knew the extent of my failures and made ways for me to overcome them.  Finally, even before I begged Him to save me from my stupidity, He already arranged the way for me to get back from my errors and make up for them.  All those things He lovingly laid out for me, even before I asked.

As much as He provided me with the strength to wake up each day, He also provided me with the necessities to live a happy life.  Not only did He wish me to live a happy life, He also wished me to live in the truth, by removing self-deceit from me, by making ways to remove pride and egoism, and by instilling a vast hope in my worth and dignity as His adopted son.  God loved me with a love unmatched by any human love, for He needs no payment or return for the love He gives freely.

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