Thursday, January 08, 2015

The Real Victors

By Colleen O’Sullivan
Beloved:  Who indeed is the victor over the world but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?   (1 John 5:5)
It happened that there was a man full of leprosy in one of the towns where Jesus was; and when he saw Jesus, he fell prostrate, pleaded with him, and said, “Lord, if you wish, you can make me clean.”  Jesus stretched out his hand, touched him, and said, “I do will it.  Be made clean.”  And the leprosy left him immediately.  Then he ordered him not to tell anyone, but “Go, show yourself to the priest and offer for your cleansing what Moses prescribed; that will be proof for them.”  (Luke 5:12-14)
Lord, help me to see the world through your eyes, to love all whom you love, and to extend your compassionate and healing touch to all who hunger for it.

There are people in our very midst whom we never see, people the world doesn’t give a second glance, people we even deliberately avoid.  They may be the elderly - gray-haired, stooped, sometimes confused or bewildered; you know, the people we give a wide berth to on the sidewalk or rush to get in front of in our haste to get out the door after Mass.  Or they may be quiet kids, children who feel isolated, ignored by their peers in school, or worse, bullied by their schoolmates, too embarrassed to tell anyone what their days are really like.  Or maybe the homeless among us are the people we never notice; they’re just part of the landscape.  The world proclaims all these people losers.

In the world’s eyes, the victors are the well-to-do professionals in their immaculate suits.  They’re the popular kids in our schools.  They’re the twenty- or thirty-somethings, full of youth and energy.

In the Gospel reading today, it’s one of the so-called “losers,” a leper, who flings himself down in front of Jesus, trusting in Jesus’ power to heal him and give him back his life, which Jesus does.  It’s an honest-to-goodness outcast who turns out to be one of the victors over the world, because he has absolute faith in Jesus.  That’s all it takes – belief in the Son of God.  Anyone can be a victor as long as we put our faith in Jesus rather than in our own achievements in the world. 

We talk about wanting to be like Jesus.  In light of today’s Gospel reading, maybe the first step in that direction is to open our eyes to all God’s children, not just the people we deem socially acceptable.  Once our eyes are open, Jesus invites us to lovingly touch what the world fears – the poor, the sick, the elderly, the homeless, and the mistreated.  Your compassionate touch may be the very thing that draws someone into community again.  Jesus may use you as a life-giver.

The first letter of John is about faith and also the compassionate works that are a result of that belief in the Good News.  When you reach out to the marginalized, you demonstrate that you, too, are a victor in Christ over the world.

It’s been very cold here this week.  Consider reaching out in some way to the homeless.  Some parishes are hosting hypothermia shelters.  You could spend a few hours volunteering.  Catholic Charities has volunteer opportunity listings on their website, as well as a page on various ministries that could use your help,

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