What is radical faith? It’s the deep and penetrating love and belief in the Lord that we are willing and able to place our complete trust in the Lord. This is the kind of faith that each one of us here are called to give, and this is the kind of faith that is exemplified by the leper who comes to Jesus in today’s Gospel.
My friends in Christ, many of us, myself included at time wish and hope in prayer, but we do not completely surrender ourselves and all we have and are to the Lord. What I mean by that is we wishfully abandon ourselves in the moments we ask something of the Lord but then we become downcast and maybe even doubt in God’s love for us or Providential Care when we don’t receive what we ask for in prayer. This is not surrender and this is not Abandonment to Divine Providence really either.
The leper comes before Jesus in today’s Gospel and says, “if you choose, You can make me clean”. Because we have for ourselves an example of this person, we can rest assured that Jesus sees in Him this surrender and trust in the Lord. And even though some of us may struggle with having that kind of faith & trust in our lives – we live in hope. We can have that kind of faith. I see it all the time.
I’ve seen it in the people I’ve met in hospital beds, with some of the worst diseases and illnesses – and the faith some of the people in those situations have had. Sometimes I wish everyone had the opportunity to minister in hospitals. I don’t make a lot of hospital visits these days in my role as Director of Vocations, but in the odd time that I do, I like to bring seminarians with me there. I usually impress upon our seminarians how Jesus’ healing ministry really is very much present in these places. And if we stop and reflect upon some of these situations, it can really strengthen our faith a great deal. Radical faith ought to also be grounded in integrity. If we trust, that trust in the Lord must govern everything in our lives. We do what we can to live by faith. This is another lesson today’s Gospel provides us with. Even though we may sin and fall from time to time, we must be people who do not let themselves be governed by sin and we do that by staying close to the Sacraments; living a sacramental life.
We have an example here of the leper once healed who does not follow the Lord’s request not to go out proclaiming His healing to all the world. This may not take away from his belief in God’s Providence and omnipotence, His total power over all things – but what the leper cleansed can’t realize is that his healing was a marriage of faith and God’s desire. Others will now come forward with the same request and without faith. The lesson for us is that when we have faith and trust in the Lord, it should integrally be a part of who we are and how we trust rather than the words we speak to others. One of the greatest examples of that I have is of my mentor, a Franciscan priest who died almost ten years ago now. His faith shone in throughout his last years with a joyful spirit amid a failing body.
It was a great blessing to be with him in the final hours of his life, and as he faded from this life and after 70 years of faithful service to God and His Church he asked for help to make the sign of the Cross. Friends, these are only my examples. Many of you have others. Whether you have those examples or not, we are all called to be those examples for our brothers and sisters. Let us consider today how we might be better witnesses of the radical faith by trusting joyfully in the Lord and in our own ways and circumstances, may we too surrender ourselves faithfully to the Lord and own the words: “if you choose Lord, You can make me clean”. Be assured that the Lord who loves you, does wish it so.