Reflection for Monday, April 3, 2000: 4th week in Lent.

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Braden, Barb
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The core message of the today's readings and gospel seems to be the healing love of God for people of faith. The readings remind us of the healing and joy that are promised to the faithful in the afterlife. We are told that our happiness will be so complete in each present moment of eternity that "the things of the past shall not be remembered or come to mind" and instead there shall always be rejoicing and happiness. Our pain, whether it emanates from our body or our mind, will be healed. All of the hurts and slights that we have suffered are forgotten. All the anguish we feel when we cause others pain is gone. The daily body aches and heart aches have vanished. And better, we are promised not just the absence of pain and suffering, but overwhelming, all-encompassing joy.|The message of the gospel differs in some ways, however. In the gospel, there is a recounting of several miracles Jesus performed in the last weeks of his life with particular emphasis on a miracle Jesus performs in healing the dying son of a royal official. At first, Jesus mildly rebukes the official for asking for a miraculous healing, saying "Unless you people see signs and wonders, you do not believe." Nevertheless, he heals the boy - a "distance" healing, if you will. He recognizes the faith that it took for the official to ask for his son's healing and understands it is human nature for the official to want his son to live, even though a glorious afterlife has been promised us. He understands this because he is both Man and God and he therefore shares this humanity with us. Perhaps it was also a manifestation of Jesus' human side that he could not turn down a face-to-face request for help. It is so much easier for us to respond to a plea that is made real by personal knowledge, but harder to respond to the more abstract suffering of large groups of people who are distant from us. Yet are we not called to this as well?|While the readings promise us healing in the afterlife, I wonder if the gospel is not telling us that the miracle of healing can be experienced in this life as well? Many skeptics say that miracles do not happen these days. It seems we rarely recognize the miracles around us or, when we do, we attribute them to the cleverness of man rather than the bountiful gifts of the Lord. God gave us the intellect that enables man to invent vaccines and antibiotics. He gave us our miraculous immune systems that defeat so many potential illnesses before they become manifested. Most of us reading these reflections have lifestyles that include abundant food, excellent water, good sanitation - these are daily miracles that keep our bodies healthy. But could we hold onto our faith if we lived in a less privileged circumstance? Would we be strong enough to maintain our faith if we had experienced the losses of those in Mozambique? Or if illness took someone we loved despite our fervent prayers and the miracles of modern medicine? Lent may be a time to ponder our faith and God's love, so that we may rejoice in the daily miracles he has given us as well as the ultimate gift of his son and the promise of salvation. It may also be a time to think about the message of love for others Jesus brought us and to consider how, with our abundant gifts, we can extend his miracles to those less fortunate.
University Ministry, Creighton University.
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