While thankfully not a leprosy sufferer, I have dealt with eczema for many years, including a severe bout on my hands that left them virtually unusable. At their worst, swollen with horrendous peeling, I kept them hidden out of embarrassment.
Many nights, I lay in bed, tears streaming down my face with the same prayer on my lips, “Lord, if you wish, you can make me clean.” During that time, and even now, when I read today’s Gospel of the leper, my heart stirs with empathy and a strong kinship.
Unlike the leper, my prayer would take years to be answered, but in God’s perfect timing, and according to his loving will, my hands were eventually, miraculously healed completely.
Like the leper, I knew the healing power found in Jesus. While I longed for physical healing, what I found instead was profound spiritual healing. During the three years of battling this particular eczema flare, I learned some of the most valuable lessons of my life. And, inadvertently, my story too glorified God, as so many people ended up walking alongside me in witnessing my suffering, prayers, and eventual healing. Without intending to, I became a model for humility and trust as I needed to rely on people for basic needs and watched my vanity melt away as my worth tied more closely to my faith than my appearance.
During this time, I learned the true healing Jesus offered was forgiveness for my sins, that the cleanliness I longed for more than anything was inside my soul. A doctor may help me find healing for my hands; but only my Lord and Savior can bring healing to my soul. Remarkably the Lord revealed many similarities between the eczema on my hands and the sin on my soul. While doctors offer diets, creams, and medications for my hands, Jesus offers the Sacrament of Reconciliation for my soul. While the medicines took years to work, the sacrament’s grace came instantly and in full healing force!
Other similarities I recognized between battling chronic illness and habitual sin:
- The root cause cannot always be determined and can lay dormant within somebody for years.
- To truly eradicate it, one often needs to investigate deep into oneself to discover the root cause of the issue.
- It is often painful, uncomfortable, embarrassing, and can create significant anxiety, and usually, we try to hide it, thinking that it will make it unnoticeable.
- To be adequately healed, you need to see a physician, and for each, nothing beats the Divine Physician.
- The longer you put it off seeking help for the condition, the more unnecessary suffering you will endure.
No suffering we endure can match that which Jesus took on for us. As today’s Gospel Acclamation reminds us, “Christ took away our infirmities and bore our diseases.” Jesus does wish to make us all well. Like the leper, before we ask anything, we should also pay Jesus homage. My praises come not for what He will do for me but for the ultimate gift He has already given.
Allison Gingras works for WINE: Women In the New Evangelization as National WINE Steward of the Virtual Vineyard. She is a Social Media Consultant for the Diocese of Fall River and CatholicMom.com. She is a writer, speaker, and podcaster, who founded ReconciledToYou.com and developed the Stay Connected Journals for Catholic Women (OSV).
Feature Image Credit: susannp4, https://pixabay.com/photos/drip-yellow-petals-globules-water-1972411/
The views and opinions expressed in the Inspiration Daily blog are solely those of the original authors and contributors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of Diocesan, the Diocesan staff, or other contributors to this blog.