Today’s Gospel reminds us of one of the most fundamentally consoling truths of our faith: it is enough for Jesus to will our conversion and sanctification for it to be done, provided we ask Him sincerely to do so. “If Thou wilt, Thou canst make me clean”, prayed the leper. The Lord willed, and the leper was made clean. Let us often say to Our Blessed Lord: “Lord, if Thou wilt, Thou canst make me holy, pure, humble, forgiving, strong, patient, and loving”. Whatever may be our needs, that humble prayer cannot fail to touch His Sacred Heart. The same profound lesson is given us by the centurion of the same Gospel. He acknowledges openly that, just as he gives orders and is obeyed by his soldiers, so the Lord can give orders to nature, and it will obey: “Speak only the word, and my servant shall be healed”. That God-fearing man, by his profession of faith, has supplied the Church with one of its beautiful prayers that we recite each day before Holy Communion. And so let us often repeat to Our Lord, and not just at Mass: “Lord, say only the word; speak only the word of my conversion, of my sanctification, of my salvation, and it shall be done. I believe that Thou hast that power, that Thou knowest all things, that Thou canst achieve all things, and that Thou dost love me. So be it. Amen”.
Then we might be surprised to find that we will accomplish, and without great effort, the admonitions of St Paul given in the epistle: “If your enemy is hungry, give him to eat; if he is thirsty, give him to drink… Do not let yourselves be conquered by evil, but conquer evil through good”. Through good, not through evil. Rendering evil for evil only makes more evil. Hatred in return for hatred only makes more hatred. Violence in exchange for violence only makes more violence. The answer of Christ and of the true Christian is always to reply to evil by heaping up more goodness, more love, more compassion, more forgiveness, on those who may have hurt us. Then, and only then, can we win them over, and they can then become good themselves. Just as Christ conquered the world, not through the iron of weapons, but through the wood of the cross, so we must conquer the world through the acceptance of suffering, in union with Our Lord and Master.