12 February 2006

The Leper Who Asked

"If you will it, you can heal me" (Mk 1:40). The leper's words to Jesus in today's Gospel are very striking. Surely if the leper were able to cure himself he would not have approached Jesus. How tempting it is for us, sometimes, to fall victim of our own independence. It is easy to ask the Lord only for what seems humanly impossible: a cure, a miracle, etc.

he more we can do technologically and scientifically the less, it might seem, that we "need" God. Recently, we received a gardening catalogue and in it there was an advertisement for a "plant cloning kit." The consumer could purchase a kit in which a carrot is cloned from the tissue of another carrot. No seed to plant, to seedling to water and no sprout to feed. The process by which nature produces and reproduces can be avoided, bypassed and, in the minds of many, "improved." In an age where we can clone carrots, sheep, cats and (gasp) humans, it might seem that Almighty God, the Creator of the Universe has been replaced. Not exactly. He has been replaced to a certain degree, but only in the minds and hearts of those who view human advancement as an ultimate good.

The leper in today's Gospel asked for something which seemed humanly impossible. Most of us do not suffer from an incurable and ostracizing skin disease, but we meet small challenges in our daily lives. It can be a grand temptation to think that we do not need the Lord's help in the little quotidian activities of our lives. To ask for the Lord's help in our daily undertakings is to offer to Him the work that we do. Our prayer for help -- even if it is a silent and brief one -- sanctifies our work, our play and our personal encounters.

St. Francis de Sales gave advice to our early Mothers and Sisters about making a short prayer before all we do:

"And let them not forget to do this even in little things which seem unimportant, or even if they are employed in whatever they like, for instance, eating, drinking, resting, recreating, and the like, so that, following the Apostle's advice, all they do may be done in God's name and for His good pleasure alone."

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