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Week after Epiphany

1 Jn. 5:5-13 & Lk. 5:12-16

“Who is it that overcomes the world but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?” (v. 5). Our faith in Jesus, the Son of God, is the victory that overcomes the world. To believe in Jesus the Son of God is to believe in the Incarnation: that God became man and dwelt among us, was crucified for us and on the third day rose again and ascended into Heaven where He is seated at the right hand of the Father.

It is to believe, too, in a Saviour Who has saved us from death, and made us sons and daughters of God. To believe in Jesus is to know a new life which is given to us by God and becomes ours through Baptism, a life which is lived in Him, with Him and through Him.

If we believe that Jesus is the Son of God, then welling up within is the Spirit of God who bears testimony to this truth. We may think, because our words lack strong emotion or are tinged with doubt, that they are ineffective. This is not true. But just think if someone in our company were to deny that Jesus is the Son of God how strongly we would defend His divinity. This indicates how present God is in our lives.

The more we can recognise the presence of God in our lives, then the stronger we will be when we seek victory in overcoming the world. God's presence is secured in us through our Baptism, and is renewed in us through the Eucharist. Let us draw strength through prayer and through the sacraments of new life so that our faith may grow. By faith we can overcome the world that seeks to dominate us through its selfishness, lusts, greed, pride, jealousies, angers and excesses. Our faith in Jesus the Son of God is the victory that overcomes the world.

Whenever l read today's Gospel l am full of admiration for this leper - he desperately wanted to be cured. Leprosy had cut him off from society and even from his family and home. Had he had a job he would have lost that and, because of his disease, he could no longer frequent the synagogue. He must have asked himself, 'ls life worth living?' Then along comes Jesus.

The leper must have heard about the miracles and wondered if there was a cure for him. He was unlike so many others who had approached Jesus, not only begging Him to perform a miracle but demanding one. In contrast he was so polite and thoughtful. When he approached Jesus he showed the utmost respect, "Sir, if you want to, You can cure me”. I am sure Jesus was impressed with the way he spoke. How could Jesus refuse such a request?

Then He surprised the leper by first stretching forth His hand and touching him. The leper never expected this because everyone believed that leprosy was contagious and lepers were to be avoided at all costs. The touch of Jesus must have been a reward for his polite manner. How thrilled he must have been to hear Jesus wanting to cure him.

This leper can teach us a lesson. When we go to Jesus we should couch our request in the manner of the Ieper … 'Lord, if you want to, please find me a job … please cure my sick child … please bring healing to my mother ... please help my son come off drugs. Of course, Jesus is always there to hear our requests, but I think He wants us to approach Him with a heart that is full of respect and loving.

Lord Jesus, whenever we approach You for help, may we always do so with great respect as the leper in the Gospel did.

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