In Epiphany season
God’s glory is being manifested forth in Jesus Christ.
We have come to know
as an infant
visited by kings;
as the Wisdom
of God, teaching daily in the Temple, making plain what is the will of
God; and, as the
Bridegroom, come to usher in a new age – making possible the mystical
marriage, the union of our souls with God. We are being transformed through our
baptism and faith into the best wine. God is adorning our natural gifts
with supernatural purposes and supernatural power.
Today Jesus reveals
to us further the nature of God. We come to see more clearly the mercy
of God and the fruit of that union of our souls with God in Christ-- the
healing of our souls and the healing of the nations.
In the Gospel
there are two healing miracles:
And, behold, there
came a leper and worshipped (Jesus), saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou
canst make me clean. And Jesus put forth his hand, and touched him,
saying, I will; be thou clean.
And further, in the
same Gospel…And when Jesus was
entered into Capernaum, there came unto him a centurion beseeching him,
and saying, Lord, my servant lieth at home sick of the palsy, grievously
tormented. And Jesus saith unto him, I will come and heal him.
There is a Jew and
there is a
Gentile who come to Jesus for healing – Jesus responds to both,
showing the universal character of God’s love, of His mercy. That mercy
removes the ancient distinctions, even the ancient animosity, between
Jew and Gentile. Just as the Gospel was to be preached first to Jew and
then Gentile, so do the order of these healing miracles figure that
divine plan. And the mercy of God is shown as a desire to heal.
But even before the
two healings happen, the divine grace manifests itself in the souls of
the two men who seek out Jesus for help:
both have been
given faith in the mercy of God – they seek out Jesus believing He can
both come in
humility – the leper came and worshipped Jesus, an act of humility,
and the centurion, said, I am not
worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof.
The kind of healings
too, are ordered to signify importance and priority. The first healing
miracle, the healing of the man of leprosy, is a figure of the
forgiveness and the cleansing of sin, the second about paralysis. Jesus
showed us in a healing miracle elsewhere in the Gospels what is of first
importance in the case of the paralyzed man brought on a stretcher by
his friends. Remember, it was only after declaring that a paralyzed man’s
sins were forgiven that he then healed the man, and that, to show that the Son of Man
has power on earth to forgive sins.
The healings perhaps
also show stages in the perfecting of our love – the first man comes for
healing of himself, while the second comes seeking the healing of
Here by the gift of faith and by the gift of an answer
to prayer a Jew and a Gentile are shown mercy, here friend and enemy of Israel are
shown mercy, here unclean because of sin and unclean because of birth
are shown mercy. Here is the reconciliation of heaven and earth through
the forgiveness of sins and between nations on earth through the removal
of preference under the Old Covenant of Jew over Gentile.
fact, a Gentile is
exalted above all Jews, not on the basis of race, but on his openness to
the gift of faith shown in his great humility and his trusting
Christ can heal by only speaking the word. Jesus says, Verily I say unto you, I have
not found so great faith, no, not in Israel. And I say unto you, That
many shall come from East and West, and shall sit down with Abraham, and
Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven.
character of the mercy of God is set forth before us by Christ in the
St. Paul calls on
us, in the Epistle, to exemplify that mercy in our dealings with all
man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men.
If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all
We are to be
reconciled with all people, even our enemies.
What makes a person
think of anyone right now who is your enemy? It is perhaps
easy to think of the terrorists who would seek to harm us or
undermine our way of life. Maybe it is because of their
sin, their envy or pride leading to wrath. They don't even
know us, yet they hate us. But we know that more often we
are involved in some way in the enemies that we have – people
whom we have hurt and who will not forgive us, but continue to
try to get back at us. What about closer to home: someone
in our work; someone in our neighbourhood; someone in our
who has hurt us and we cannot forgive or someone we have hurt
who cannot forgive us or maybe a mixture of both and it has set up a life draining animosity
between us and them?
How will we ever be
St. Paul reminds us earlier in Romans, when we were enemies
– that is, enemies of God, – we were reconciled to God by the
death of his Son [Rom 5:10].
healing, begins in our Gospels with the forgiveness and cleansing of our
sin, then continues with the freeing up of the soul and body.
Likewise, if we are
to be reconciled with all men, it begins with humbling ourselves before
those who are at enmity with us and forgiving them their sins
against us. That will change our hearts towards them. But it
may not change their hearts towards us.
But Christ would
have us go further than just our no longer holding enmity towards our neighbour.
St. Paul knows this when he says, If thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in
so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head.
It is an echo of Jesus in the Sermon on the
Mount: Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good
to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use
you, and persecute you.
If we, by the grace
of God, take the next step, humbling ourselves before our enemies and allowing the grace of divine charity to
manifest itself in acts of love – seeing our enemies' needs and
seeking to satisfy them – it will bring about a change in their
hearts, perhaps ever so slowly at first. The fire of divine love will melt the enmity at work in them,
and their paralysis caused by hatred, their evil, will be
overcome with good just as God's goodness has overcome our evil. It is our interceding for them with Christ.
It is frightening to step out like that, but Jesus will give us
The epiphany of God
in Christ to the world, becomes an epiphany of God in our souls, and, if we are
faithful, it becomes an epiphany of love towards our neighbours.
St. John speaks
about the healing of the nations in his vision of heaven near the
very end of the Book of Revelation:
shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding
out of the throne of God and of the Lamb… and on either side of the
river, was there the tree of life… and the leaves of the tree were for
the healing of the nations.
us now gaze upon the tree of life from which our Saviour hung, as His
passion and death are brought before our minds. Let us
now partake of that stream of mercy flowing, clear as crystal, from the throne of God
as we partake of His Body and Blood given for us. And let us
be reconciled with God and participate in the healing of the nations -
beginning with our enemies in our midst - a family member, a
co-worker, a neighbour...