Readings (Year C):
Reflection: Look for places of healing
Healing, hope and thanksgiving: These are the three themes tying together our readings today. They are the goalposts to which we drag our weary bodies during these difficult times. But as the infomercial used to say: “but WAIT, there’s more!”
The ten lepers who present themselves to Jesus in our gospel this week are brave and bold. They represent, literally and figuratively, those at the margins. Political discourse today often focuses on how people at the margins got there, but rarely on how we can help. These men ask Jesus clearly for healing, and in response Jesus acts quickly and decisively. The men have to begin their journey to present themselves to the priests in faith and trust, but they are healed before they arrive. That’s hope! Hope can be hard for all of us but especially for those at the margins.
Healing can also look different for each of us. Anyone who has recovered after an illness or gotten good news after weeks of fear knows that relief is powerful. It should inspire a desire to express gratitude for that relief. But what if the healing doesn’t come or is long delayed or doesn’t look like what we thought it would? Are we still grateful?
This gospel calls us, as people of faith, to ask big questions about who is at the margins, what they need, and how we make social justice real in both reparations and recognition. We need to be able to say: “we see you, we love you, and we can do better.”
Being human is hard. Being a person of faith makes it harder. We celebrate and work in community for exactly this reason. No one is alone. Each of us is called and gifted in unique and myriad ways to bring the kingdom of God to our world. But like the lepers in the gospel, we must start the journey before being healed.
Giving thanks seems easy on a surface level. Phrases like “thank God” or “Amen” populate our everyday language—but are we really giving thanks? Or is our gratitude just a formality? In the gospel, only one man comes back and thanks Jesus. His experience of being healed has brought him to a new relationship with God.
I try as part of my prayer routine to list at least three things for which I am grateful every day. Often this prayer time is structured by the Ignatian Examen. This affords me the opportunity to reflect on where God has been active in my conscious life. This can often help me process difficult situations through a lens of gratitude.
But it isn’t easy. I stopped watching broadcast news a few years ago because I found that print and digital formats allow me to control how fast the news comes at me. I am better able to digest and respond when I take my time. Yes, this also leads me to skim some things. But overall, it allows me, as in our gospel today, to find hope, look for places of healing and be grateful for large and small things.