Nine years ago, Father Luke Ferris was called to the hospital bedside of Arturo, a man of great faith who had suffered a major heart attack and had lost blood flow to his outer extremities for an extended period of time. As a result, he needed to go into surgery to have his toes amputated.
“After he explained this to me, we talked about how in our lives, we have to let go of things. Sometimes it’s our own health or even parts of our body. … It reminds us of how we need to be detached and even more so, to realize we are more than a few digits on our feet or our hands. That what makes us a human person is more than just our abilities to walk perfectly or to be able to carry on everything that we think a human person should. Our value is more than just our physical abilities,” said Fr. Luke, a priest of the Diocese of Green Bay, Wisconsin. He shared these insights during a homily when he celebrated Holy Mass earlier this week at the Relevant Radio® Chapel of the Nativity.
“Sometimes we forget this and we get down on ourselves because we can’t do the things we used to do or something happens, we get sick during this time of the year and we get down because of that. Our God wants us to realize that He doesn’t come to fix everything, He comes as Emmanuel: God with us. To be with us in the difficulties, and we are more than just our successes in the world.”
We know that with God, nothing is impossible, but that doesn’t mean that God will fix everything for us. “Our life is not about some immediate victories that build us up, but it’s about true union with God in spite of difficulties and even in spite of victories. That we want to be united with Our God, have a relationship with Him, and realize that that’s where He wants to be with us.”
He spoke about the Gospel reading for the day, Mark 1:40-45, in which Jesus heals a man with leprosy. “Our God in the form of Jesus Christ comes to be with us, and so He comes to heal—and He does so in this case—but notice how that leper prays. That leper prays to Jesus, saying, ‘If You wish, You can make me clean.’ It’s almost as if he is also trying to understand that if it is Your will that I may suffer more, well then I need to be prepared for that as well.”
God doesn’t come to solve all our problems, explains Fr. Luke. “In a deeper sense, yes. At the end of our lives, yes, we will be united with Him. But He doesn’t come to solve every one of our problems—especially our health problems. He has the power to do so and the power to give us much more, which is eternal life. But in most cases, He comes to be with us in our difficulties.”
“We are going to have some losses in our lives,” says Fr. Luke. “Whether it’s in battle—a big battle, like the Israelites—or whether it’s our own toes, as Arturo recognized. And when we prayed together, he felt the presence of Mary and Jesus with him. And he knew and didn’t take for granted that God had saved him in that heart attack, and at the same time he needed to let go of his toes. And yet, he came out of that operation alright, he came out of that operation with a stronger faith that God was indeed with him.”
Lord, please grant us the grace to carry our crosses, with your help, and walk with us in our difficulties. Amen.
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