Acts 18:9-18; Ps 47 God is king of all the earth; John 16:20-23
Today we pause to remember Blessed Damien, a belgium priest, who decided he was called to minister to people isolated on a small island in the pacific called Molokai, a leper colony.
He spent a majority of his life being their shepherd. Here are few excerpts form letters he had written back to his homeland while ministering to the people of Molokai.
"Here I am in the midst of my dear lepers. They are so frightful to see, it is true, but they have souls redeemed at the price of the precious blood of our Divine Savior. He also in his divine charity consoled lepers. If I can not cure them as he did, at least I can console them and by the holy ministry which in his goodnees he has entrusted to me, I hope that many among them, purified from the leprosy of the soul, will present themselves before his tribunal prepared to enter the communion of the blessed."
They are so frightful to see but they have souls redeemed at the price of the precious blood of our Divine Savior...If I cannot cure them at least i can console them...i hope them many of them, purified from leprosy of the soul, will present themselves before his tribunal prepared to enter the communion of the blessed.
How often we run from those who are not attractive? How often we put distance between ourselves and those who repulse us for whatever reason:social status, hygiene, physical looks, emotional instability? Yet, here Blessed Damien becomes like Christ who reaches out to those who are hideous on the outside yet his eyes penetrate to the interior and his loving gaze focuses on the state of the soul of each he embraces.
BLEssed Damien shows us another way; the way of Christ whose gaze always penetrates the surface of things and goes deeper.
"As you know, it has been already quite a while that Divine Providence chose me to become a victim of this repugnant disease of ours. I hope to remain eternally grateful for this grace. It seems to me that this disease will shorten and narrow the way that will lead me to our dear homeland. In that hope accepted this disease as my particular cross; I try to bear it as did Simon of Cyrene, following in the footsteps of our Divine Master. Please assist me with your good prayers, so as to obtain for me the strength of perseverance, until I reach the summit of Calvary."
it seems to me that this disease will shorten and narrow the way that will lead me to our dear homeland. In that hope I accepted this disease as my particular cross; i try to bear it as did Simon of Cyrene, following the footsteps of our Divine Master.
How often we gripe about sufferings or trials? How often we complain about this injury or that sickness? How many times have we refused to embrace the particular cross God has chosen for us on our journey home?
Rather than carry it, we throw it down and have ourselves a tantrum and begin to pity ourselves.
Blessed Damien sees in his affliction, his suffering and trial, his disease that will disfigure him, an opportunity to embrace the short and narrow path back home: "this disease will shorten and narrow the way."
What a beautiful perspective!
Yet, all he ask for are prayers for strength and perseverance that he may reach the summit.
He doesn't look for a way out. He embraces his cross and merely implores that with assistance of prayer, good prayers, that he might travel on the narrow path laid before him.
Godo prayers are requested.
How often are our prayers superficial and pretty lame? He wants prayers that matter, prayers that do not seek to eliminate the cross but give strength and encouragement while carrying it.
Good prayers that are not self centered, but always turned toward the will of God and our journey home.
Blessed Damien teaches us much. MAy we pray for the strength to follow in his footsteps and thus follow in the steps of Christ.
As The Song of Songs in the OLd Testament remind us, "follow the tracks of the flock" they will lead us to the shepherd.