March 23, 2020 – 4th Week of Lent

“Leaping over the walls of discouragement, and in faith and hope, experiencing the thrilling Love of the Lord!”

(Based on Is 65:17-21 and Jn 4:43-54)

Heard of Impalas?

Impalas are medium-sized antelopes (animals like deer, with smooth hair and upward pointing horns) that roam the African Savannas (large plains with hills and forests).

They have a great speciality:

 Impalas are fleet runners, able to leap distances of up to 33 feet (10 meters)!

They use this technique to escape predators and sometimes, apparently, simply to amuse themselves.

The impala can also clear bushes and other obstacles by soaring some 10 feet (3 meters) in the air.

Typically, a running impala will simply jump over anything in its path!

But there’s a catch…
These extremely versatile animals can, however,  be kept in a zoo with only a 3-foot tall wall surrounding them!

How is that possible?

How is just a 3-foot wall enough, to enclosure an animal that can leap upto 33 feet and soar around 10 feet in the air?

It’s easy to explain…..

The impala will not jump if they are unable to see the spot where their feet will land!

So, even though they can jump several feet higher than the wall surrounding them in a zoo, they do not jump, because the 3-foot wall obstructs their sight of the outside, where they would land!

Since they cannot see where they land, they do not jump … even though they could.

They can, but they remain limited!
They are able to, but they remain restricted!

How often are we too caught up with this mentality in life?

  Small enclosures block our view…and therefore we fail to jump…even though we can!
Mini problems restrict us in our lives…and we fail to leap…even though we can!

The Gospel of the Day presents an incident of a “leap in faith”…
… of a person who fails to get bogged down by enclosures surrounding him, and instead trusting in the power of Lord, “jumps”…and is blessed!

Jesus is in the land of Galilee…away from his hometown. (Jn 4:43)
·   His own people in the hometown have rejected Him.
·   The known persons of His native place have failed to give heed to His mighty deeds.

And so He arrives, yet again, at a Gentile place… where they welcome Him wholeheartedly!

How true is this of many a human situation…

Those familiar to oneself, fail to understand…but those outside, are able to give better respect!
Those known to a person, fail to see the value of the person…but those who are unknown, recognise the speciality of the person!

Familiarity, very often, breeds contempt!

In this gentile land, a royal official whose son was ill – nearing death -approached Jesus, seeking for a healing.

He travels a far distance – nearly 25 miles, from Capernaum to Galilee – and coming to Jesus, he asks, “Sir, come down, before my child dies” (Jn 4: 49)

The request of this official would perhaps, remind some of us of another person, who came with a similar problem….
… The centurion – in Mt 8: 5-13 – whose servant was at home, paralyzed.

This centurion had showed tremendous faith and was even greatly praised by Jesus.

But the royal official, in today’s Gospel, had a mixed bag of faith…
·   He had faith in Jesus, which made him to come a long distance to meet Jesus.
… his faith was however, prompted mainly only because of a need for a healing.

·   He had faith in Jesus, which made him to request the Lord for a healing.
… his faith, was however, limited by physical distance (since he asked the Lord to come to his house, unlike the Centurion (Mt 8:8)

Often our faith resembles this royal official…
… turning to the Lord only in times of afflictions and troubles
… having our own doubts on whether the Lord can really work miracle in the way I want

But we must also remember…
… hard and difficult situations, are willed by God, to allow for miracles and healings, which ought to become the springboard for a deeper and committed life of faith!

… the Lord has His own ways and means of working powerfully in our lives, and we need to have the openness and humility to receive them in His way and in His time!

When the Lord gives His word, ” You may go; your son will live” (Jn 4:50), this royal official, with a mixed bag of faith…. makes a tremendous “leap and jump” in faith.

The Gospel says, “… the man believed what Jesus said to him and left” (Jn 4: 50b)

There were many enclosures – of pain, doubt, uncertainty – surrounding the royal official…
… but he makes a giant “leap” trusting in the Lord.

Perhaps, he was not sure, where he would land, but he still “jumped” in faith!

Our lives, very often necessitate this “jumping” in faith, trusting in the mighty power of the Lord.

Unlike the Impalas which do not jump, when they can’t see where they are landing, this royal official, trusted in the Lord, and takes the “leap” of faith.

We too are called to do the same…
… Not be afraid, where we will be landing, but trusting in the goodness of the Lord, we make a “leap” of faith.
·   Barriers of immense difficulties and crisis often surround us.
·   Walls of tremendous hardships and pains often block our lives.

But, the Lord has empowered us with graces to jump and leap over them all!
·   It’s His grace that strengthens us.
·   It’s His mercy that empowers us.

It is this Grace and Mercy of the Lord that gives us the hope that the Lord is working in our lives…
… even in the midst of crisis and problems, including the present one that the entire world is encountering.

Through Prophet Isaiah, God assures us:
“For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; and the former things shall not be remembered or come into mind.

But be glad and rejoice for ever in that which I create; for behold, I create Jerusalem a rejoicing, and her people a joy!” (Is 65:7-8)

Are we going to get enclosed by the walls of discouragements, despair and depression?
… or shall we, with faith, “leap” over these walls and experience the joy and thrill in the Lord?

God Bless! Live Jesus!

Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – “When you encounter difficulties and contradictions, do not try to break them…

… but bend them with gentleness and time!”

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