Daily Reflection

From a Creighton Student's Perspective

January 12, 2012

Sam Pierre

3rd Year Medical Student

1 Sm 4:1-11
Ps 44:10-11, 14-15, 24-25
Mk 1:40-45

They sat smiling on their cots lining both sides of the large room, their mangled hands folded and heads slightly bowing with the traditional “Namaste” greeting.  The 117-degree Calcutta heat soaked my clothes as I slowly followed the Missionary of Charity nun as she guided me through Titagarh, Mother Teresa’s Leprosy Center.  A great percentage staring blankly off into space, their leprosy having robbed their vision, were simply joyful to hear our voices greeting them.  Of the many emotions my visit elicited, a desire to alleviate their suffering came through most clearly.  As a medical student, I knew that the most that advanced medicine could offer was Dapsone, a drug that typically merely slows leprosy’s progression and transmission.  There was really not much I could offer.

My experience working with Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity in Calcutta, India two summers ago has changed my perspective on several aspects of faith, including any biblical reference to leprosy.  I have a newfound appreciation for those true miracles that Jesus performed any time he cured a leper.  Even now, 2000 years of technology later, we cannot match that.  Needless to say, Jesus’ healing truly was something worthy of praise.  However, Jesus did not want the praise and accolades.  In today’s Gospel, he even demands that his “patient” remain silent about the miracle healing.

Two important lessons come from this story.  The first is that we should seek to imitate Jesus’ selfless, humble approach to serving others with no regard for personal attention.  The second point is more significant. 

I imagine that I’m not the only one who feels overwhelmed by the thought of trying to serve in a way that Jesus did.  Odds are that none of us will ever cure leprosy on the spot.  However, what we do out of service to God’s people is not as important as the fact that we are doing it.  As Mother Teresa reminds us, “We can do no great things, only small things with great love.”

My final point comes from today’s first reading.  The Israelite people had plenty of emotion and excitement about God being in their midst on the battlefield.  In fact, “When the ark of the Lord arrived in the camp, all Israel shouted so loudly that the earth resounded,” (1 Samuel 4:5).  However, when it came time to act, the Israelites did not fight mightily enough and lost the battle.  Their excited passion contrasted with their lackluster action makes me question the same in my own life.  Do I spend too much time focusing on the emotional aspects of faith rather than actually living it?

While emotions certainly play a significant role in my faith, more important are the ways that I act on that faith in my daily life.  Jesus’ example in the Gospel shows us how to perform incredible acts of service in utter humility.  And Mother Teresa reminds us that the grandiosity of our actions is determined by the magnitude of love we apply to them.

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