Wednesday of the 32nd Week of the Year
Memorial of Saint Josaphat
November 12, 2014 8:30am
There is a Jewish folk tale about a young man who aspired to holiness.
He worked for a long time to attain holiness, and then he went to his rabbi.
He said, “Rabbi, I believe that I have achieved sanctity.”
The rabbi gently responded, “How so?”
The young man explained, “I have been practicing virtue and discipline for some time.
From the time the sun rises until it sets, I take no food or water.
All day, I do hard work for others.
If I am tempted at all, I roll in thorn bushes or in the snow until the temptation passes.
And at night, before bed, I practice the ancient discipline of administering lashes to my bare back.”
The rabbi was silent for some time.
Then he took the young man to the window and pointed to an old horse outside.
The rabbi said, “I’ve been watching that horse.
It doesn’t get fed or watered from morning until night.
All day long it works for people.
I often see it rolling in snow or bushes, as horses are prone to do, and frequently I see it getting whipped.
But I ask you: is that a saint or a horse?”
The rabbi went on to make the point that sanctity begins with a spirit of gratitude for the very life God has given us, a spirit of standing humbly before God and realizing God’s love for all of creation.
This sense of gratitude transforms negativity and despair into hope.
It makes so much of life an experience of God’s grace.
The rabbi’s lesson highlights the point of today’s gospel, where the one leper returns to give thanks and his gratitude makes him completely whole.
As Jesus says to him, “Your faith has saved you.”