Thursday, January 12, 2012

Moved With Pity

January 12, 2012

Thursday of the First Week in Ordinary Time

After a fierce struggle Israel was defeated by the Philistines, who slew about four thousand men on the battlefield. When the troops retired to the camp, the elders of Israel said, "Why has the LORD permitted us to be defeated today by the Philistines? Let us fetch the ark of the LORD from Shiloh that it may go into battle among us and save us from the grasp of our enemies." 1 Samuel 4:2b-3

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." Mark 1:40-42


Father, free us from the challenges of the battlefields of life and the enemies of the truth that we face every day. Give us the strength to listen and obey no matter what contradictions our faith gives rise to in daily life. With like that shown by the leper reaching out to encounter Christ, help us to turn to you to be made clean in mind, body and spirit for the work ahead. Amen.


As Israel went into battle with the Philistines, it did not matter if they carried the ark of the covenant with them or not, the Philistines prevailed. They thought by carrying the ark that God would be on their side and prevail.

How often do we think that God will be on our side even though we all share a common birth? Abraham Lincoln recognized this tendency and once remarked, “Sir, my concern is not whether God is on our side; my greatest concern is to be on God's side, for God is always right.”

God can choose to intervene like Jesus did when he made the leper clean. Miracles do happen. However, miracles happen on God's terms, not on ours. Even in the face of the miraculous healing, the leper could not follow one simple instruction from Jesus -- to keep quiet about the healing. Because he told so many people, Jesus was inundated with requests for healing and could not even enter villages because of the crowds.

God is certainly on our side. However, we have to make some choices and set some priorities.


Two interesting stories of prisons and prisoners are in the news today…one in Mississippi and one in Washington, DC, (and Cuba).

In Mississippi, the outgoing governor granted pardons to dozens of people (as he is legally entitled) before leaving office. Yet with waves of protests from the victims and residents of the state, a judge there is blocking release of prisoners ordered to be set free.

This week also marked the tenth anniversary of the opening of the prison at Guantanamo during the War on Terror. The detention center was opened in 2002 by the President George W. Bush a place to house terrorism suspects after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. The facility once held 779 detainees. President Barack H. Obama promised to close it but has not. Hopes for closure are remote and prospects for the remaining 171 prisoners who have not yet been put on trial are dim.

Yesterday, people gathered in Washington to call for the closing of Guantanamo and other secret prisons that have jailed people without trial for as much as a decade. Stories abound about the number of people freed after years of detention when no evidence of criminal or terror activity was found. You can read more about it on Catholic News Service here.

As Catholic Christians, we are called upon to proclaim liberty to captives and to let the oppressed go free. There is no geographical restriction. Not everyplace but Mississippi. Not everyplace but Cuba. Just as Catholics are challenged by the practice of the death penalty in many states, we must grapple with the reality of how our faith informs our actions in the face of injustice. May we find the way to be on God's side.

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