03 April 2024

Lame in one leg during the middle of the week

Octave of Easter (W)

Fr. Philip Neri Powell OP
St. Albert the Great, Irving

A healthy-looking beggar approaches Brian and his mom in the market, asking for a talent. His says in a sing-song voice, “Alms for an ex-leper.” Brian responds, “Did you say an ex-leper?” The beggar then tells him that this guy named Jesus cured him. Just touched his head w/o even a “by your leave” and cured him, ruining his livelihood as a beggar. Brian says that maybe he should find Jesus and ask to be made a leper again. The ex-leper says no to that but wonders if perhaps he should ask Jesus to make him lame in one leg during the middle of the week. Something beggable but not leprosy! I don't know for a fact that this scene from Monty Python's The Life of Brian is based on our story from Acts this morning, but it certainly brings it to mind. It also raises an interesting question: do we really want to be cured? I mean, sure, we probably would want to be cured of leprosy or cancer or some other deadly disease, but do we want to be free from sin? Do we want to be freed from our slavery to disobedience? There's something comfortable and securely familiar in our sins. Something predictable, something routine. And having that comfortable routine disrupted by a cure can be scary.

The disciples left behind in Jerusalem must be feeling some discomfort. Jesus is dead. And – for all they know – his body has been stolen. The Romans and the Jewish authorities may be searching for his followers to give them the Good Friday Treatment. Rather than falling back on their Master's teachings and bringing to mind his promises of being with them always, they begin to scatter in fear. Cleopas and another disciple are on their way to Emmaus. Despondent, verging on despair, they ponder on the traumatic events of the past few days. What if Jesus hadn't found them? What if he wasn't there to call them foolish and slow of heart? What if he didn't break open the Word and share bread with them? What if, instead, they continued on their way to Emmaus, found lodging, and kept on discussing what went wrong in Jerusalem? IOW, what if, in their despair, they forgot everything Jesus taught them, everything he prophesied, everything he did to heal, clean, and enlighten those who approached him? They might have ended up wondering if it would've been better to have never met the Christ. Meeting him and following him has brought them nothing but trouble.

But that's what meeting him and following him does. It brings trouble. It brings discomfort and disrupts predictable, comfortable routines. Especially those comfortable routines that keep us chained up in sin and death. Confessors here can tell you that there's nothing more predictable and boring than sin. And an eternal death is not the sort of excitement we want! So, do you want to be freed from your sins? Do you long for an adventure in growing in holiness? If you feel a chasm of nothingness opening under you, a life w/o purpose or direction, a life wasted in pointless petty acts of boring disobedience, then receive the cure Christ is offering you and be free. You wouldn't mourn the loss of a cancerous tumor, so why grieve over a victory against your rebellious heart and mind? Why go back to being a leper when you can be clean?

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