First Reading: 2 Kings: 25:1-12
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 137
Gospel: Matthew 8:1-4
When Jesus came down from the mountain, great crowds followed him. And then a leper approached, did him homage, and said, “Lord, if you wish, you can make me clean.” He stretched out his hand, touched him, and said, “I will do it. Be made clean.” His leprosy was cleansed immediately. Then Jesus said to him, “See that you tell no one, but go show yourself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses prescribed; that will be proof for them.” (Mt 8:1-4)
Why does God allow someone to have such a terrible disease like leprosy? In the gospel today, we read about Jesus' healing of a man with leprosy, but the question is why was this man living with the awful disease in the first place? Many ask the question, how can a loving God allow such terrible illnesses and diseases? Why do some people battle cancer and go through chemotherapy only to still lose the battle? Why do some people go through life only having mild physical afflictions, while others overcome serious disabilities? While we know that it was because of the fall that pain and death came into this world, but the truth is that we will never fully understand why God allows pain and suffering in this world. Although we will never fully understand it, I do think that there have been some pretty sound explanations for why God allows suffering in our lives. I once heard Fr. John Corapi talk about suffering, and I think that his explanation is the best that I have heard so far. He says, "God allows suffering so that a greater good can come out of it, and if you don't believe that then just look at the crucifix."
I think that Fr. Corapi is very wise in his teaching on suffering, I think that today's gospel is a great illustration of this. In today's gospel, we see that Jesus heals a leper. But a very important thing that we also see is that the leper never demands, but only submits to the will of Christ. In this instance, the good that came out of this man's leprosy was that he went deeper into his faith of God. He had real faith, and humbled himself before God, and because of this Jesus worked a miracle and completely cured him of his leprosy. Now this is not just an instance of physical healing, but of spiritual healing as well. This man with leprosy was at one of the lowest points in his life, and instead of cursing God, he submitted to Him. By curing his physical ailment, Jesus also had an impact on his spirit as well, and while we never hear of what became of this leper, my bet is that his life is forever changed and that he spend the rest of his life following Christ.
God allows suffering so that a greater good may come out of it. Jesus was not afraid to show us this with His life, death and resurrection. As His disciples, we cannot believe that we will be free of suffering in our lives, but the one thing that we can control is our attitude and how we look at the suffering that we go through. Many of us are burdened by physical or emotional suffering, but what we must remember is that Christ's promise to us is that if we will persevere with Him in this life, then there will be a great reward for us ... eternal life with no more pain and suffering, only love.
Father above, we thank you for this day. Thank you for our lives and for all that we have. Lord, you have blessed us so much in our lives, help us to never take any of this for granted. Lord, we know that we are each called to carry crosses, help us to rely and trust in you during these difficult times. We pray for all those who are battling physical and emotional difficulties, may they see their suffering as a blessing, rather than a curse. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.