We should not be so distracted that we fail to notice how God has moved in our lives
By Deacon Bob Hunt
I was conversing with my oldest sister recently, and we spoke about how often we miss God’s grace moving in our lives simply because we aren’t paying attention. I thought of the story of Jesus healing the 10 lepers (Luke 17:11-19).
The 10 lepers saw Jesus and, aware of His reputation as a healer, begged Him, “Jesus, Master! Have pity on us!” The Gospel account continues: “And when He saw them, He said, ‘Go show yourselves to the priests.’ As they were going they were cleansed. And one of them, realizing he had been healed, returned, glorifying God in a loud voice; and he fell at the feet of Jesus and thanked Him” (emphasis added).
Why did the others not return to give thanks? Were they ungrateful? Perhaps. But I tend to think that they didn’t return because they hadn’t realized that they were healed. They hadn’t noticed that God had touched them, that His grace had moved in their lives in a way so powerful as to transform their lives. How could this be? They asked Jesus for pity which, in this case, meant healing. Jesus had instructed them to show themselves to the priest, which in their day was a way of verifying their newfound cleanliness. Maybe they were expecting to be healed when they arrived to see the priest. Maybe they were expecting something less than a complete healing. I can’t imagine that they were ungrateful for receiving from Jesus what they had asked for. I can only imagine that they hadn’t realized yet that God had touched their lives with His grace. Jesus is frustrated that only one of the lepers, and a foreigner at that, returned to give thanks. But people don’t generally give thanks for gifts they don’t realize they’ve received. I wonder which is worse, ingratitude or not even noticing that one has been gifted a great gift?
We have so many daily distractions, it’s a wonder that we’re able to focus on anything. Right now, as I write this column, I am suffering severe back pain. The new kitten we just adopted is being adorable and playing all around me. There’s a book at my side I would like to read, and the news from Rome that Pope Francis has given his OK to blessing same-sex relationships simply demands attention. (There are, of course, caveats to couples in same-sex relationships receiving a blessing and those caveats, of course, will be ignored by priests who support same-sex marriage).
But there is grace. I have friends who regularly check up on me and assure me of their prayers. I have a daughter who responds immediately to any need I might have that I can’t fulfill on my own because of the back pain. I have a chair and a heating pad that offer some relief from the pain. I have people who love me, support me, care about me. I have a Lord who has redeemed me. Perhaps realizing that God has moved in our lives, that His grace has touched our lives, even in a way that transforms our lives, is simply a matter of opening our eyes and looking at the world around us and our own face in the mirror. That is the face of one who has been redeemed by Christ!
We have experienced Advent and Christmas and are now back in Ordinary Time. What a strange expression, “ordinary time.” What is ordinary about time, or anything for that matter, now that Jesus has been born? What is ordinary about anything now that He has walked among us, healed us, taught us, proclaimed the kingdom to us, suffered, died, and rose again for us? We are a redeemed people, and that’s not ordinary. The fact that we’re tempted to take it for granted doesn’t make it ordinary.
In the document approving blessings for same-sex couples, Pope Francis says, “Ultimately, a blessing offers people a means to increase their trust in God. The request for a blessing, thus, expresses and nurtures openness to the transcendence, mercy, and closeness to God in a thousand concrete circumstances of life, which is no small thing in the world in which we live.” The request for a blessing also seeks for a relationship a certain level of legitimacy in the eyes of the Church, and I think Pope Francis forgot that part. But I digress. … Certainly, we desire a closeness to God in those thousand concrete circumstances of life. Certainly, that is no small thing in the world in which we live.
Let’s keep our eyes open. Let’s not be so distracted that we fail to realize how God has moved in our lives. And, after we do realize how He has moved in our lives, let’s not forget to give thanks.
Be Christ for all. Bring Christ to all. See Christ in all.
Deacon Bob Hunt is a husband, father, grandfather, and parishioner at All Saints Church in Knoxville.