St. Casimir


The Healing Power of Humility:

Optional Memorial of St. Casimir

(2 Kg 5:1-15a; Ps 42; Lk 4:24-30)


What comes first – faith or healing?

Ordinarily, we would automatically think the answer would be faith, as often in the scriptures, Jesus would say things like “Your faith has saved you” or ask, “Do you believe I can do this.” The readings today, however, describe how healing can also lead to faith, through the means of humble obedience.

The reading from 2 Kings begins on the note of faith – a young Israeli captive girl believes the prophet Elisha could heal her master. As a result of her faith which reaches the king, the important general Naaman ends up at the house of Elisha to be healed of his leprosy.

When advised by the prophet to simply bathe in the muddy Jordan seven times, his false pride and haughtiness takes over, and he heads home. Convinced by his servants to just be humble and acquiesce to that demand, he does so, probably doubting all along and grumbling to himself as he repeatedly dips in the Jordan. On the seventh time, he suddenly finds himself healed.

It is not so much the muddy waters of the Jordan that healed him, as his humble obedience. But Naaman is not only healed – he is transformed. He returns to the prophet to proclaim there is no God in all the earth except in Israel, and in that same account, actually takes along some soil so that he could worship this new-found God on the soil of Israel. In his case, healing overcame doubt and led to faith in the one true God of Israel.

In its own poetic way, the psalm continues the same pattern of faith coming last. It is the “light and truth” of God that leads us to the “holy mountain” of God, and there, we will experience exceeding joy and praise God. The experience of truth, goodness and beauty, the transcendental attributes of God, are intended to lead us to a deeper faith relationship with God. Where we find truth, genuine goodness and profound beauty, there we will find God.

The gospel stands in stark contrast. Jesus, who is the way, the truth and the life – who is the truth, goodness and beauty of God incarnate – comes to his home town, and reflects back to them the sad reality of their lack of faith in him – healing happened to a pagan widow and a pagan leper, and not to those in Israel. That painful truth was too much for them, and they responded, not with repentant faith, but with rage smoldering into murderous intent. They who should have been the first to believe and accept Jesus, did just the opposite – reject and want to get rid of him. When Jesus speaks the truth to his hometown crowd, they prove to be too proud and stubborn to accept him as a prophet and as the Messiah, because he was too ordinary.

So, there is healing power in humility, and in many instances, humility is the key to accessing the healing power of God. That insight is built into the 12 Step program of A.A. Step 1 is a very humble step: “Admitted I was powerless over alcohol, and that my life had become unmanageable.” On this foundation of humility, God’s power can go to work as individuals and groups work the rest of the steps leading to new life and freedom through faith, fellowship and self-awareness.


The saint the Church honours today is very fitting for today’s readings. St. Casimir was born in Poland in 1458, the son of Casimir IV, king of Poland. Involved in government of affairs, he was renowned for his sense of justice and his care for the poor. Casimir burned with a sincere and unpretentious love for God and for the poor. Nothing was more pleasant or desirable for him than to share his belongings, and give his entire self to Christ’s poor, to strangers, to the sick, to those in captivity and all who suffer. To widows, orphans and the afflicted, he was not only a guardian and patron but a father, son and brother.

It is difficult to imagine or to express Casimir’s passion for justice, his exercise of moderation, his gift of prudence, his fundamental spiritual courage and stability, especially in a most permissive age. Daily he urged his father to practice justice throughout his kingdom and in the governance of his people, and whenever anything in the country had been overlooked because of human weakness or simple neglect, he never failed to point it out quietly to the king. He actively took up the cause of the needy and unfortunate and embraced it as his own; for this reason, the people called him the patron of the poor.

Though the son of a king and descendant of a noble line, Casimir was never unapproachable in his conversation or dealings with anyone, no matter how humble or obscure. He always preferred to be counted among the meek and poor of spirit, among those who are promised the kingdom of heaven, rather than among the famous and powerful of this world. He had no ambition for the power that lies in human rank and he would never accept it from his father. He was afraid that the barbs of wealth which our Lord Jesus Christ spoke of as thorns, would wound his soul, or that he would be contaminated by contact with worldly goods.

Those who had personal knowledge of Casimir’s private life testify that he preserved his chastity to the very end of his life. He died of tuberculosis when he was 26 and was buried in Vilnius, Lithuania. Casimir is the patron saint of Lithuania and one of the patrons of Poland.

The Eucharist brings faith and humility together, as it is an act of humble faith, of hoping in the Lord and trusting in his Word. We believe humble gifts of bread and wine are transformed into the Body and Blood of Jesus who forgives and heals us through this sacrament and transforms us into his Body.

Empowered by this celebration, we are sent out into the world to spread this message of hope for healing through faith and humble obedience to God’s word and will.


Updated: March 4, 2024 — 5:06 am

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