Tuesday, November 11, 2014

There is Nothing I Shall Want

By Colleen O’Sullivan
But when the kindness and generous love of God our savior appeared, not because of any righteous deeds we had done but because of his mercy, he saved us through the bath of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he richly poured out on us through Jesus Christ our savior, so that we might be justified by his grace and become heirs in hope of eternal life.  (Titus 3:4-7)

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.  (Psalm 23:1b)

(The lepers) stood at a distance from him and raised their voice, saying, “Jesus, Master!  Have pity on us!”  And when he saw them, he said, “Go show yourselves to the priests.”  As they were going they were cleansed.  And one of them, realizing he had been healed, returned, glorifying God in a loud voice; and he fell at the feet of Jesus and thanked him.  He was a Samaritan.  (Luke 17:12b-16)

Lord, may I ever be thankful for your healing grace and mercy.

As I was reflecting on today’s Gospel, I thought of all the recent news stories about the Ebola virus.  Anyone infected with the disease, their family members, their friends, and anyone who has come into even the remotest contact with them all become instant lepers.  No one wants to come within a mile of them, so frightening is the disease.  What an isolating experience for those affected.  Even in this country, with all our sophisticated medical expertise, if you’ve got the virus, you’ve got to be wondering if you’re going to die.  Your caregivers, of necessity, come to help you wrapped in layers of protective garb.  No one can come visit you.  It has to be extremely lonely.

That loneliness and isolation are what the lepers of Jesus’ day experienced, too.  No one wanted to be infected, so lepers were banned from towns and villages, from contact with family or friends.  They literally lived on the margins of society.  So, how wonderful it must have been for the ten lepers who cried out to Jesus for healing and had their plea answered.  No longer would they be shunned.  They could return to their homes, their occupations, their families.  They could live again.

So, why did only one of the ten, and a Samaritan at that, turn back to thank Jesus?  Probably the other nine were like most of us.  We don’t generally walk around full of gratitude.  We all have much for which to be thankful.  (Just ponder the words in the first Scripture reading.  Out of love and mercy, our God has redeemed us and offers us the gift of eternal life.)  But we don’t wake up in the morning full of thanksgiving for another day, for the gift of life, for the blessing of redemption.  We take it for granted.  Or we are disgruntled with God because not every item on our prayer wish list has been granted.     

Spend some time today praying through Psalm 23.  Think about how God has led you to green pastures.  What restful waters has God used to refresh your soul?  When has God taken you by the hand and led you in the right direction?   When have you walked through a dark valley without giving in to fear or despair because you felt the presence of the Lord?  When you pray through the entire psalm in this way, you should be able to gratefully echo the psalmist in saying, “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.”

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