Clean our souls

Clean our souls

HEALTH is wealth—it is true.  Ask those who have lost it, and you’ll know how sickness reduces one to a pathetic level of poverty that’s worse than mere economic want.  That is why when we are blessed with good health we should do our best to preserve it by using moderation in everything we do: no overeating, over-drinking, overworking, over-playing, over-worrying—no over-anything.  But there are those who—over confident of their “great health” and “fantastic immune system”—dismiss sound  health advice; when they finally fall ill and are put on a diet they would continue indulging their appetites, reasoning that “Me gamotnaman eh!” (There are medicines anyway!).

This attitude afflicts many people whether they are learned or not, rich or poor, male or female, clergy or consecrated persons.  Then, when science or their doctors give up on them, they run to Padre Pio, or buy a pilgrimage to Lourdes, or light candles in some other popular shrine—begging for miracles.  I actually know of a few terminally ill persons who zealously did so, only to die without receiving the miracle they prayed for.  It is sad to see them die with eyes open and mouth gaping wide, still hoping for healing.

The healing of the leper by Jesus(Mark 1: 40-45) is a story with many layers to it.  Usually, we see only the level that is readily visible, and that’s the kind of miracle people are wont to pray for—instant healing.  But isn’t it rather disrespectful to live carelessly—apart from Jesus—and then to ask Him to free us from the disastrous consequences of our carelessness?  It is, of course, unjust, but we Christians are taught that there is also God’s mercy to beg for, and so we go down on our knees and try to feel sorry for our sins.

Like the leper we ask Jesus to “clean me”.  Unlike the leper, our skin may be clean but our souls may not be.  Perhaps the leper’s skin is filthy but his soul is pure—who can say?  Note how he recognizes the Lord’s power, aware of his own deplorable condition.  And so the leper says, “If you wish, you can make me clean.”  Humble in his helplessness he leaves it entirely up to Jesus to make him whole again.

When we ask God to heal our bodies, why not first implore Him to help us clean our souls?  And so we humbly say, as the leper does, “If you wish…”