Sunday, October 09, 2016

Recognize Grace

By Lisa Helene Bacalski

I will no longer offer holocaust or sacrifice to any other god except to the LORD. (2 Kings 5:17b)

Sing joyfully to the LORD, all you lands: break into song; sing praise.
(Psalm 98:4)

But the word of God is not chained. (2 Timothy 9b)

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.
(Luke 17:15-16)

Sing to the LORD a new song,
for he has done wondrous deeds;
his right hand has won victory for him,
his holy arm.

This weekend we celebrate miracles God performed, cleansing the skin of Naaman and the ten lepers. The joy here is not just the physical purification that stopped their suffering. It is also the fact that those who were cured could rejoin their communities. Being part of a community is essential to our human nature; we were made for God alone but given each other to serve him together.

Our society does an excellent job of driving us apart and diverting our focus from where it belongs: on God. Instead of casting lepers outside the gate, we just hand everyone their very own tablet or smartphone and open wide the streams of content designed to make us feel better, but only briefly. Pursuing our own interests without companionship or a community often leads us to be selfish and judgmental instead of generous and compassionate.

How can we respond more faithfully, especially when so many images in our media are filled with destruction or despair? Fortunately, we have the advice of two wise saints to help us. St. Julie Billiart lived through tumultuous times and suffered a serious and mysterious paralysis.    Her travails brought her closer to God and she advised others, “Be like the sunflower that follows the movement of the sun, and keep your eyes always turned towards our good God.”

Mother Teresa said, “Never worry about numbers. Help one person at a time, and always start with the person closest to you.” Somewhere in your daily path is “the least of your brothers,” a person physically or spiritually poor who needs your kind and loving assistance.

Find one concrete thing you can do for a person near you who needs a meal or a listening heart. 

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