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THE LEPER WHO TEACHES US HOW TO PRAY

Father Francis's picture
First Week of Ordinary Time

1 Sam. 4:1-11 & Mk. 1:40-45

Today’s readings are all about our attitude to God and our approach to Him when we pray.

There can be no doubt that the Chosen People were fickle. They vowed to obey and love God, but so often they showed a lack of trust in Him and were too complacent. The terrible defeat of which we hear in the first reading was the result of their complacency. This attitude led the people to believe that God would care for them regardless of whether they were truly faithful to Him or not. Often their complacency manifested itself in reliance on external acts of religion with no real interior devotion.

In the battle against the Philistines the leaders of the Israelites thought that by bringing the Ark of the Covenant, which represented the presence of God, to the front line would in itself bring about the enemy's defeat. The two priests who carried it were the Sons of Eli who had no respect for the Lord and for the priests' duties toward the people. Not surprisingly this plan of theirs did not meet with God’s approval! The result of the battle was disaster and they were killed. Earlier God had warned Eli that his sons would be destroyed, and God promised, “I will choose a faithful priest who shall do what I have in my heart and mind.” (1 Sam. 2;35). That faithful priest was Jesus, for no one fulfilled this prophecy then He did.

In the Gospel we see Jesus curing a leper whose prayers were answered because he approached Him with faith and courtesy. His attitude was so different from that of the Israelites, who took God's help for granted.

This leper, this outcast, has something to teach us. It is the way he approached Jesus that won His favour. "If You want to, You can cure me." How often our prayers are simply demands, which we expect God to grant.
If we never add the words “Thy will be done" how can we expect to find favour with God? So before every request we make to God, we should follow the example of lthe leper and say 'If it is Your will' ...

Lord Jesus You love us so much and always listen to our prayers. May we never take Your love for granted but approach You reverently, and patiently wait for whatever You will for us.

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