Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Reflections for the First Week in Ordinary Time, Part 2

Thursday – He Remained Outside

In today's Gospel, we see Jesus healing a leper. The man, excited by his cure, disobeyed Jesus' warning not to tell anyone, and he spread the word far and wide. He just couldn't contain his good news. 

Jesus, however, suffered the consequences of the man's enthusiasm. As the report spread, He could no longer enter into towns because He was swamped with people seeking cures and favors. So He “remained outside in deserted places.” Miracle-hunters found Him anyway, though, but their hearts weren't in the right place. They wanted signs and healings rather than Jesus Himself.

This reading encourages us to ask ourselves some difficult questions. Do we keep Jesus on the outside of our lives? Do we relegate Him to the deserted places, or do we let Him into our hearts? Do we seek Him for the right reasons? Do we want an intimate relationship with Him or only favors now and then? 

“He remained outside in deserted places...” This could be one of the saddest lines in all of Scripture. Jesus, our Savior, our God, Who loves us more than we can imagine, should never, ever have to remain outside. 

Friday – We Want a King!

The Israelite elders swarmed around Samuel, clamoring for his attention. They wanted something, something big, something they thought would make them like their neighboring nations, something that would give them status and power and victory in battle. They wanted a king. 

Samuel tried to warn them. A king, he explained, would take over everything. He would draft their sons into his army, force them to work for him, and tax them heavily. Their pleas would soon be replaced by complaints, and God wouldn't listen to them. After all, by insisting upon a human king, the Israelites were actually turning their backs on their real King: God. 

The people, however, refused to pay any attention to Samuel. “We want a king!” they demanded. The Lord told Samuel to go ahead and grant their request. The Israelites would have to learn the hard way.

Sometimes we have to learn the hard way, too. We often create kings for ourselves, allowing money or power or possessions to rule our lives. But these are demanding kings, kings that suck up our time and energy, kings that drain us. God allows this to happen so that we will realize our error and turn back to our real King, a King Who gives us life, a King Who wraps us in love, a King Who truly wants only the best for us. 

Saturday – Follow Me

“Follow Me.” Jesus spoke only these two words to Levi the tax collector, and Levi immediately got up and followed Him. 

Jesus says these same two words to each of us in the depths of our hearts. Do we immediately get up and obey?

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