The audio device was full. Fr. Todd’s homily did not get recorded last Sunday.
28th Sunday in Ordinary Time: The Process of Healing
This weekend we have two stories of healing- between Naaman and these ten lepers. We hear these stories and are reminded of the Lord’s love for us, his desire for our healing, for our good. The question in my mind becomes- What stands between God’s desire and our own desire/need for healing? It is the reality that healing is a process requiring ongoing surrender. I want to talk about the steps we all need to move through so we are open to and receive healing.
First- we have to know that we need to be healed. We grow up hearing this truth in various ways- someone has to hit rock bottom before they can acknowledge they need to be healed. And there is truth to that- we can have a very difficult time recognizing our own need and sometimes we simply refuse to see it no matter if we are at rock bottom or not. Last week I was at Catholic Charities annual dinner and they brought in Dr. Ray Guarendi to speak. He is a nationally syndicated family physiologist on many radio stations. He has been doing marriage counseling for many years and he said that he is still waiting for someone to come in with their spouse and begin by saying something like this: “I have come to realize that I am a very difficult person to live with and I would like your help in being a better spouse for my wife (or husband) who has been suffering because of me”. It hasn’t happened yet! Hard though it may be we need to be able to come to that place where we acknowledge we need help- in our faith life, our home life, our work environment, etc.
Second is taking the hard step of actually seeking out help once we acknowledge we need it. Naaman and these lepers sought out grace. This can take a long time. Sometimes recognizing our need for help we can wallow in self-pity, anger, bitterness, etc. Why do I have to deal with this, why can’t my life be like so and so’s etc. Having taken that first step of recognizing it they go no further and stay stuck in this victimhood. Jesus asks a man paralyzed for 38 years if he wanted to be healed. The man really didn’t give a straightforward answer. How much did he actually want to be healed? Often suffering is simply not fair. Actually, it is often grossly unfair. Unfair though it may be we need to seek out help- be it confession, counseling, support group, praying prayers of forgiveness, Retrouvaille for struggling marriages, etc. Or some combination of the above.
Third is being willing to submit to the process of healing. We think it should be instantaneous. Well it often isn’t. Namaan had to wash seven times and he almost refused to do so, missing out on what God wanted to do for him. The ten lepers where only healed as they made their way to see the priest. Sometimes we simply seek the silver bullet that fixes the problem without us actually having to change. Don’t be discouraged if healing takes time. I am often encouraging people in confession or pastoral counseling if they are dealing with a sin/struggle that has been a part of their lives for years to keep on fighting. If it was the result of years of building up a habit it will probably take years to fight and change that habit. It will often take years to roll back the pain and issues surrounding whatever this thing in our life is that needs to be healed.
Fourth is something exemplified in both our readings and that is gratitude. Gratitude is a sign of healing fully received and now bearing fruit because it is recognized and acknowledged. The person who is grateful is the person who won’t shut up- they tell everyone about what they received. Doing so the blessing they received is shared with others and they become wounded healers.
We need healing and God wants to heal us. What in my life needs to be healed? Realize there are steps of surrender and we can get hung up on any one of them. The invitation today is to see what in our life needs to be healed or converted and then to see where we fall in this four-step process. We need to know this for ourselves for God doesn’t force us to receive his help. We just as much need to know this for the person whom we love and we see suffering so that we can walk alongside them in their own process of healing. We can be a great blessing for them. And the encouragement is- don’t be afraid to surrender! Don’t be afraid to take the next move even if the way forward seems murky and uncertain. You don’t go forward alone!