Jesus says in today’s Gospel, “No one takes my life from me, but I lay it down on my own.” Jesus’ intrinsic freedom is the shining quality here. He was not “compelled” or “obligated” or “coerced” into the path that led to Calvary: he chose it.
In this last year we’ve all been reminded of our mortality as the COVID-19 pandemic has swept over the world. But as part of the Body of Christ, there is a hope that awaits our mortal bodies, and to see it, we need look no further than this Sunday’s readings!
In this Divine Mercy Sunday’s Gospel, John presents two encounters of the Apostle Thomas coming to embrace the Good News and believe. Let us put ourselves into the Scripture, remembering we have all experienced “doubting-Thomas” moments.
The inconvenience, discomfort, sadness, and pain we may feel if we open our hearts and pay attention to what is happening in and to the world around us are the only real antidote to indifference, because those feelings should call us to action.
We know that we all have a “rebellious lower nature” inside of us, an instinctual impulse towards mediocrity, hedonistic pleasure, self-justification, etc. When we give ourselves the chance, we recognize that our character flaws control us more than we prefer.
In this culture of faux freedoms, God is calling us back to Himself. We are free to choose to follow Him or not, but we are not free to choose the consequence of that choice. Only in choosing to follow Christ do our hearts find the answer to our deepest longings.
Lent invites us into the desert. As the Spirit drove Jesus into the desert, so the Spirit drives us into that same place of peace filled scarcity. We live a simpler, more reflective life hoping to confront the demons that bind us to our weakness and imperfections.
According to Leviticus, skin diseases, as well as scars and burns, render persons unclean. What is at stake here is the question of contagion and the health of the community. Because of their condition, the sick person was ostracized from the community.