October 31, 2017
From the first reading, Romans 8:12-17:
For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear,
but you received a spirit of adoption,
through which we cry, "Abba, Father!"
From the Gospel reading, Luke 13:10-17:
The Lord said to him in reply, “…This daughter of Abraham,
whom Satan has bound for eighteen years now,
ought she not to have been set free on the sabbath day
from this bondage?"
My dear brothers and sisters,
What a vivid portrait we have in the Gospel of Jesus’ healing work… a woman who had been living with a terribly embarrassing and painful malady, not being able to stand up straight for eighteen years. She had been “crippled by a spirit,” Jesus says she was crippled by Satan. And you know, I bet she pleaded with God unceasingly for healing of both physical and spiritual. She could not escape her infirmity. But she kept coming to the house of God, pleading; she didn’t leave in despair. There was the mustard seed of faith, that tiny speck of faith that kept her coming back, staring at the ground, there at the foot of the temple, day after day, month after month, year after year. She loved God. She knew God was her father, her papa, “Abba.” She cried out to the Lord unceasingly, and did not let fear overtake her faith in her redeemer.
Eighteen years. Waiting for the renewal of something so “owed” to her, a physical infirmity that is jarring to see in another human being…
How many years has it been for you? How long have we been waiting for God to come and heal something in us that we feel is so “owed” to us as humans? Something that should be so "normal"? Usually it's the thing that you notice in seemingly everyone else, the thing that makes you cringe. For her, it was: Everyone else can stand up straight, why am I unable to stand? For me, it has been: Everyone seems so happy and enjoying things, why can't I be happy and enjoying things? I see a happy person and I think to myself, "they must be faking it... they can't be THAT happy."
But then one day, He comes for her: the One she had been waiting for. He stands over her and sees a “daughter of Abraham,” and heals her, and she “at once stood up straight and glorified God.” He gives to her what would be given to all of us: freedom from Satan’s sickness, freedom on the Sabbath.
What have we been bringing to church every Sunday, waiting for Jesus to show up and heal? Most of the things we bring are not so obvious. They are beliefs of the heart, most of the time. I have been convicted recently that I do not think I am worth saving, I don’t think I’ll ever be “good enough” for Jesus. And truly, these things are only lies because of the heart of our Father Who calls me "daughter." The Son knows what sonship is, and He bestows it upon all of us, first, by the very nature of His Being, secondly, by His perfect human life, and lastly in His earthly life, His Passion and Resurrection.
And truly, these are all parts of human life that The Father desires for us too. We all are bestowed with the title of “beloved son,” “beloved daughter.” We are all called to strive after God’s perfection. And we are also called to walk with Christ through the sufferings laid out for us, we are called to die with Christ, and if we do these things, we will rise with Christ. And let us REJOICE in this, my brothers and sisters! This is not just a rote theological checklist!! This is our destiny as sons and daughters of a good Father, our daily bread, our path to complete joy in Him that is not just reserved for after our earthly lives. May we truly believe that God wants Heaven in our hearts now!
Our patron, Pier Giorgio knew this path. He looked at the poor, the infirm, and saw Jesus. He, like Christ, saw the sick and saw another child of God, a “daughter.” He sought out these experiences! He sought them out because He sought Christ, and Christ led him to where His Body, His family, needed healing. And Pier Giorgio died taking on the sickness of another, because he wasn’t afraid; he was a fearless son.
I pray that we, as a community of Catholic young adults, experience a deepening of our identities as sons and daughters of a good Father. I pray we see the hurts in ourselves the way our Father sees them: waiting to be healed completely, not far from His Touch, not a place of fear, but faith and redemption.
Jesus, may you teach us who we are. Jesus, may you teach us Who Your Father really is.