Healed and Shaped by God

– Monday of the First Week of Advent –

When Jesus entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him, appealing to him and saying, “Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed, in terrible distress.” And he said to him, “I will come and cure him.” (Matthew 8:5-7)

Too easily in the life of faith, we can resist going on the journey to ‘new life in Christ’. We do this for myriad reasons, each as individual as we ourselves are. 

With all the best intentions in the world, we are instinctively ‘both and’ people; we both want what God is offering, and we want to get to decide how much and to what degree the road that God has for us impacts our lives. We effectively paralyse ourselves as we alternately respond to God and then resist. Each of us is the centurion’s servant, to one degree or another.

Spiritual paralysis has its consequences, for it prevents us from fully becoming the person God is creating us to be. Of relevance is this earlier text from the prophet Isaiah where he invites us to climb God’s mountain in search of God, guided by his light (Isaiah 2:1-5). The prophet speaks to us of the call to live the life of faith fully. We are to take the trek beyond our state of frequent self-involvement and debilitating futility and instead turn our attention to the only thing that matters – going in search of the One who calls us into life in him. 

This journey is unique to each of us and involves not only discovering our life in God but becoming the person God intends for us to be [Rejoice and Be Glad n 11]. It is designed to be a joyful journey full of companionship, laughter and promise, and yet it worries us that we are being called along a path that we do not fully understand. It brings with it the promise of eternity and of horizons of which we are scarcely aware. 

So why do we resist this trek up Isaiah’s mountain towards the reality that is our life in God? What can we do about our paralysis? The healing stories we encounter in the Gospels point us towards the One who alone can provide healing and the promise of deep joy and freedom to come. Ultimately, while the grace of spiritual healing comes from God, the desire to be healed comes from us. Today, our prayer can be for healing from the paralysis that prevents us from walking along the paths that God has in store for us.

We are incapable of fixing this situation ourselves, and we must acknowledge that. Instead, we must get used to turning again and again to the One in whom our hope resides. There is no other recipe for this. The life of faith does not conform to our strategies and desire to take charge. We await God’s intervention and call on him with all the faith we can muster. As St Irenaeus teaches us: 

“It is not you who shapes God; it is God who shapes you. If, then, you are the work of God, await the hand of the artist who does all things in due season. Offer him your heart, soft and tractable, to keep the form in which the artist has shaped you. Let your clay be moist lest you grow hard and lose the imprint of God’s fingers.” [Against the Heresies 4.39.2]

By Shane Dwyer

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