Sunday Scriptures

Healing, Conversion and Salvation Are Within Our Reach

by Father William R. Dulaney

It happens to most of us. It can be gradual or sudden, but once it happens, our lives are never the same.

You might remember when it happened to you – when you underwent a conversion that involved a profound change of heart that signaled a major turning point in your life.

Perhaps your conversion was the result of some need, drive or feeling that came from within. Maybe circumstances beyond your control compelled you to evaluate your life and mend your ways. It’s possible an encounter with a good person inspired you and precipitated your change of heart.

However your conversion came about, chances are it was a challenging, perhaps unsettling time in your life.

The author of or a key figure in each Scripture text for today’s liturgy had an experience that led to a conversion.

In Second Kings, Naaman, a pagan Armenian general, is afflicted with leprosy. At Elisha’s word, he plunges into the Jordan River and is cleansed. Afterwards, he returned to Elisha and professed faith in the God of Israel.

Depth of Conversion

As we read in Paul’s Letter to Timothy, we are impressed by the suffering and hardships this apostle endured as he proclaimed Christ’s love far and wide. What makes Paul’s dedication and sacrifices noteworthy is the realization he had been a zealous persecutor of Jesus’ followers. His experience on his journey to Damascus changed forever the course of his life. That he eventually gave his life for the sake of the Gospel attests to the depth of his conversion.

The 10 lepers in Luke’s Gospel were accustomed to being treated as outcasts. When they met Our Lord, they acknowledged Him as “Jesus” and “Master.” They implored Him to have pity on them and were cured. While all the lepers may have been grateful, only the Samaritan returned to give thanks and glorify God. Jesus informed him that his faith had saved him.

Blessings Are Gifts

These Scripture passages fill us with hope. They teach us that if we respond in faith to God’s grace, we can, like Naaman, Paul and the Samaritan leper, experience the blessings of healing, conversion and salvation. They remind us these blessings are gifts we neither earned nor deserved but were given freely by God because of His great love for us, gifts we should accept graciously and with humility.

Naaman, so grateful he was cleansed, wanted to give a gift to Elisha. In refusing Naaman’s gift, Elisha attested to the complete gratuity of God’s healing. One does not repay God – one receives His gifts in thanksgiving.

After his conversion, Paul continuously thanks God for calling him to salvation, for making him an apostle and for giving him the grace to minister to His people and suffer in His name.

The Samaritan leper realized he was the recipient of a miracle, which gave him a new lease on life, a gift that did not and could not have a price tag attached to it. All he could do was give thanks to God.

It’s possible God is prompting us, through today’s readings, to ask ourselves some challenging questions.

When I look back on the changes and turning points in my life, and realize the hand of God was at work in them, am I grateful?

Has God ever healed or forgiven me in the past? How did I show my appreciation?

Is God calling me to a conversion or change of heart at the present time?

Is my response positive, or am I, consciously or unconsciously, resisting God’s call because I’m fearful as I consider:

• Committing to something I’ve never done before can be frightening.

• If I reach out to another, I risk rejection; if I speak out, I risk being misunderstood or persecuted.

• If I trust and am taken advantage of or disappointed, I might feel betrayed or let down.

Change, commitment, sacrifice and putting others’ needs before our own takes faith, discipline, patience and perseverance.

The stories of Naaman, Paul and the Samaritan leper inspire us and can help us overcome our concerns as they assure us the rewards we receive – healing, conversion and the promise of salvation – are worth any inconveniences, difficulties or risks we encounter.[hr]

Readings for the 28th Sunday of Ordinary Time

2 Kings 5: 14-17

Psalm 98: 1, 2-3, 3-4

2 Timothy 2: 8-13

Luke 17: 11-19

Father William R. Dulaney, parochial vicar at St. Gregory the Great parish, Bellerose, is an adjunct spiritual director at Cathedral Prep and Seminary, Elmhurst, and part-time chaplain at St. Edmund Prep, Sheepshead Bay.

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