Faith can conquer the world. St. John tells us so in today's first reading. When we have faith in God, a true, living faith that reaches out in love and lives in obedience to God's commandments, we are victorious over the trials and tribulations and terrors that the world throws at us.
How? We have a larger perspective when we have faith. We can glimpse God's plan for our lives. We understand that everything that happens to us has a reason. We know that God is in control and will make all things work for good for us. We realize that we have an eternity ahead of us, an eternity of life with God, an eternity for which this life, with all its difficulties, helps us prepare.
Faith broadens us. Faith opens us to hope and to love. Faith lets us see ourselves and our fellow human beings and our circumstances and our world through God's eyes and with God's heart. And that is true victory.
Friday – Healing a Leper
The man was an outcast. Covered in leprous sores and scabs, he couldn't go anywhere without declaring himself unclean, and he had to stay far away from other people for fear of spreading his disease. He was lonely and scared with no one to care for him.
Then Jesus came. The moment the man saw Him, he fell at His feet and begged, “Lord, if You wish, You can make me clean.” What great faith! This man was so certain that Jesus could help him that he risked punishment just to approach Him.
The man was right. Jesus didn't hesitate. He touched the man (thereby making Himself ritually unclean) and said simply, “I do will it. Be made clean.” And the man was clean. The leprosy disappeared, just that quickly.
Jesus told the former leper to show himself to the priest so that he could officially rejoin the community and to offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving. Apparently, the man did so because news of the healing spread far and wide. Large crowds came to hear Jesus and perhaps receive cures of their own, but Jesus knew that these people weren't coming for the right reasons. They didn't possess the simple, trusting faith of the healed leper. Do we?
Saturday – He Must Increase
“He must increase; I must decrease.” John the Baptist knew that his time was drawing to a close. His mission was nearly complete. He had done his job and prepared the way for the Messiah. He had softened the hearts of the people of Israel, leading them to repentance and turning their thoughts toward God.
Now it was almost time to exit the stage. Jesus was beginning His ministry. The Bridegroom had arrived and was ready to court and marry His bride. John, the best man, would move silently to one side, standing ready to listen to the Bridegroom's voice and then fading into the background.
John's humility made him ready to accept his new task. He had always said that he wasn't the Messiah but merely the voice announcing the Word Who was to come. Now John would decrease that Jesus might increase, for John knew that Jesus' increase meant salvation for the whole world.