FRIDAY, TWELFTH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME
Gen 17:1,9-10,15-22; Ps 128:1-5; Mt 8:1-4
GOD’S WILL IS EXPRESSED IN THE IMPOSSIBLE
God’s will is expressed in what seems to be impossible for human beings. In the first reading, God approaches Abram to reveal his will to him. God promises him a multitude of descendants; Abram for his part is commanded to walk blameless in God’s presence. The new name ‘Abraham’ given to him means “father of a multitude of nations”, which signals his new relationship with God – as a covenantal partner. Isaac is the child promised, and the story of his birth points to God’s great power in making the impossible a reality. Abraham’s reaction to the promise of Isaac is an understandable mixture of respect and disbelief. He shows reverence by paying homage but cannot help laughing for what seems impossible (which explains Isaac’s name, ‘laughter’ in Hebrew.)
In the Gospel, we hear the plea of the leper, “Lord, if it is your will, you can heal me.” This is an exemplary way to pray – to submit your intention before the Lord, giving primacy to his wish and will. Jesus appreciates the disposition and attitude of this kind of open-ended prayer.
But why does he tell the leper not to tell anything to anyone, but to fulfill what Moses commanded? Firstly, he didn’t want the publicity; he knew that people would flock to him asking him to do their will. Demanding from God what one desires over and above his will displeases him, though at times he gives in. Furthermore, when we speak to others about what God has done for us, there is a subtle danger of feeling a sense of pride, as though we are God’s privileged ones, on a pedestal above the rest. Thus, Jesus instructs the leper to give glory to God first, by fulfilling the law of Moses which called for a thanksgiving offering to be made in the Temple after the priests approved of the healing. Am I able to accept God’s will, even when it is difficult to understand, or differs from my will? What is my attitude in prayer?
Response: Indeed thus shall be blessed the man who fears the Lord.
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