When was the last time you fell ill? What was that like?
I recall when I contracted COVID-19. I felt so tired, as if I was weighed down by an unseen rock, unable to get out of bed, coughing, wishing it would end. It was hard even to pray. And when it finally subsided, all I thought was “Oh, thank God that’s over!” and went about my own things. Closed that chapter and moved on, so to speak.
What about the last time you fell into sin? What was that like?
Reflecting on the readings for this week, I realise that I also react in the same manner when I have fallen into more serious sin. Realising that I have sinned, I would mope around, unable to be happy, until I finally dragged myself to the confessional. And once the absolution comes, all I would think was “Oh, thank God that’s over!” and I would go about my own things. I don’t recall making an offering of thanksgiving for God healing me.
Illness and sin are quite similar: one a malady of the body, preventing it from working right, and the other, a malady of the soul, cutting it off from God and His grace. In both, we are given the opportunity to realise what we have lost – health in body, and wholeness in spirit – and the chance to seek out healing. Sometimes, we seek healing of both body and soul.
In the First Reading and the Gospel, Naaman and the ten lepers sought a cure for their physical ailments from God. Leprosy was a serious condition, not only because of what it did to the body, but it cut the infected person off from communal life. An infected person was treated as a pariah and no one could even touch him or the things he touched. There was no cure in those days.
Despite this, only two who were healed gave thanks to God for their healing. For me, these stories about why we should be grateful and give thanks to God: because in our thanksgiving, we show that we are also restored to wholeness in spirit.
There is no expiry date on praise and thanksgiving, even after an event has passed, we can still reflect on it and notice God’s handiwork in our lives.
Perhaps this week, we can pause to reflect on our responses to being healed, both in body and in the sacrament of reconciliation and think about how we can offer thanksgiving to God for demonstrating his power and goodness to us.
Written by: Vincent Ong