ST. GERARD BALLOON: A REFLECTION ON THE MEMORIAL OF ST. GERARD MAJELLA BY FR. IFEANYICHUKWU HENRY NWOKORO CSsR, IBADAN
I have a special likeness for baloons. I would usually have at least one balloon in my room. One thing I learn from baloons is the need to empty myself. If you know anything about St. Gerard Majella, you may be wondering what St. Gerard has to do with balloons. Actually he has nothing to do with balloons but he reminds me of balloons.
St. Gerard, like some other saints, had the gift of levitation. It is true that some people who belong to some religions practice levitation as an art. But the saints did not practice levitation as an art. As for the saints, not only did they not like the fact that they levitated, they are totally not in control of how it happens. St. Gerard once asked a musician to play a song for him. The song was about doing to will of God. While the music was going on and St. Gerard was reflecting on the will of God, he levitated. Each time he reflects on the mysteries of God, he would levitate. St. Alphonsus would go into the chapel and he would pray there behind closed door for hours. Once someone was wondering what he was doing in the chapel for hours and peeped and saw St. Alphonsus kneeling, but in a levitating state.
There is no actual picture of St. Gerard levitating. At least, I couldn’t find one. But there is that of St. Joseph of Cupertino . Other saints who levitated include St. Alphonsus Liguori, St. Pio of Pietrelcina, etc. One thing about this kind of gift is that anybody who desires it, even by pretending not to desire it, will never have it. Some of these saints would carry stones in their pockets, for fear they might levitate. The reason for this will be understood when we understand why they have such gifts in the first place.
Our first reading of today is a continuation of yesterday’s reading. St. Paul speaks to us about Christian freedom. He tells us that those who are focussed on keeping the whole law will not be justified. Actually nobody can keep the whole law. What is wrong with trying too hard to keep the laws is that we focus on ourselves and we depend on ourselves. Today we are told to ‘DIY’ (Do It Yourself). To me, ‘DIY’ is only one letter short of ‘DIE’. The saints looked up completely to Christ to do it for them.
Look at his eyes and see a man who is not looking at himself, a man who is not full of himself, full of secrets, full of material possessions, workerholic or full of sin. He has practiced detatchment and is completely dependent on God. Whoever is full cannot float in the air. This makes physical sense. I am not saying this is ‘THE’ reason, but it is ‘A’ reason which helps me to make sense of levitation. All the baggages we carry in life makes us heavy and make it difficult for us to enter the kingdom of God.
In the Gospel, Jesus condemns us for focusing too much on our externals. We focus on looking good, and in order to achieve this, we hide a lot of things within us. So, while we look clean outside, while we look empty outside, inside is full of junk. We pretend that all is well, while we carry so many burdens within. Jesus invites us to do some clean-up. We should clean the inside and get rid of all the junk we carry. What better way to do this than to begin with a good confession. Most confessionals look like toilets and in a sense, they are toilets. Many of us are spiritually constipated and we are so heavy. If heaven is up above, then only those who can fly will get there. How can we fly when we are still full of ourselves? Think of this the next time you see a balloon.
I am Fr. Ifeanyichukwu Henry Nwokoro, CSsR. I am your fellow child of God and this is my way of sharing my daily reflections with you. Please feel free to leave a comment, suggestion or question. Let everything that lives and that breathes give praise to the Lord.
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