Thursday, January 12, 2017

Partners Through All

By Beth DeCristofaro

Healing Power by Lee Hodges
Encourage yourselves daily while it is still "today," so that none of you may grow hardened by the deceit of sin. We have become partners of Christ if only we hold the beginning of the reality firm until the end. (Hebrews 3:13-14)

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. The leprosy left him immediately, and he was  made clean." (Mark 1:40-42)

Lord, be my Partner, be my Shepherd, make me Clean.  May I find still waters of peace and green pastures of hope glimmering in my spirit even when I am lost in the valley of hurt and death.  May mercy and kindness follow me and may I offer them to others along my way.  May I live with you daily and forever. Amen (Based on Psalm 23)

There is just so much in this Gospel.  The leap of trust made by the leper who begs, “make me clean” and Jesus, God, was moved.  Then there is the JOY!  Of course this man spread the word about his healing!  Who wouldn’t!  When the last round of chemo is complete, when the cast is finally taken off, when the surgical sutures are removed are we overjoyed?  There is a need for celebration.  And, of course, this leper who was exiled from the human company was restored to his rightful place as a man in the neighborhood and religious community.

Because I work in healthcare I sometimes wonder about the many people who were not cured by Jesus.  Perhaps they could not reach Him because of their infirmity.  Perhaps they were on the fringe of the crowd just too far to ask for a cure.  Perhaps they were their own obstacle due to fear, vacillation or even disbelief.  Were those people not worthy?  Today people hear of new cancer cures and can be disastrously disappointed when the cure won’t work for them.  Or one person survives a gunshot while the person next to them does not.  A baby is born in perfect health yet in the next room a baby clings to life due to microcephaly.    Are they not worthy of healing?  Our humanness begs “heal me,” “make me clean”.

In Paul’s letter his words to hold firm, to stay loyal as “partners of Christ if only we hold the beginning of the reality firm until the end” gives me some insights.  It not only takes the leap of faith but hard work to stay firm on our walk with Christ.  We don’t earn the partnership but we can lose it by filling ourselves with distractions, sin, false ideals and not leaving room for our divine partner.  Importantly, staying firm until the end implies to me that there is a much bigger reality, a spiritual reality to which we can be loyal.  Being a partner of Christ is not dependent on our health, our beauty or lack of it, our status in life or financial state.  Being Christ’s partner is for the long haul - the eternity to which He calls us.  “Encourage yourselves daily while it is still today” no matter the struggle, the complacency or the suffering which make up normal, daily, human existence.  Turning from him to worldly promises is not the fulfillment of joy, community or healing He offers. Christ is in partnership with us and he is ready to heal our immortal soul.

Jesus, God and Man, was moved by the leper and is moved by our plight.  He promises partnership with us.  What causes me to be discouraged and turn away from Him?  When do I take out my disappointments, my leprosy, on others?  Encourage others and yourself today – the Lord is moved by them and moved by you, loving and healing equally.

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