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The Danger of Complacency

“Have we become so comfortable in our faith that we have stopped striving to know God better?”

“Jan Paderewski,” Edward Coley Burne-Jones. 1892

Are you too complacent in your faith?

Complacency is a rejection of things as they might be. “Good enough” is the motto of the complacent person. Complacency makes people fear the unknown, mistrust the untried, and abhor the new. Like water, complacent people follow the easiest course – downhill.

The great Polish pianist Ignace Paderewski was driven by the need to develop his gifts to the highest degree he was capable of. He said, “There have been a few moments when I have known complete satisfaction, but only a few. I have rarely been free from the disturbing realization that my playing might have been better.”

Complacency can negatively affect our desire to do the work God has put us here to do. It can also affect our faith.

Have we become so comfortable in our faith that we have stopped striving to know God better? Have we forgotten the reason we attend church on Sunday? Can our playing be better?

In Jesus’ time there were a number of reasons an individual could be considered “unclean” and unable to act as a full member of the community. In all cases it was the responsibility of the priest to determine whether a person was “clean” and could once again take their place in society.

Jesus heals ten lepers and sends them to show themselves to the priests. We have seen Jesus heal with signs and symbols and words, but in this case He seems to heal simply with a thought and sends them on their way. While making their way to the priests, the lepers realize what has happened. Nine are so locked into law and ritual, that is, they are so complacent, they apparently continue on their way. Meanwhile the tenth, a Samaritan, a foreigner, returns to give thanks to the Lord.

There are many lessons for us here, most obviously the importance of gratitude and the willingness to be fearless in what we ask of God. But there is also a subtler lesson about becoming so complacent in our faith that we lose sight of its true meaning.

We must guard ourselves against a spiritual “leprosy” that erodes our faith to the point where we pray by rote and attend Mass just because we are supposed to. We go through the motions and forget the meaning.

When we attend Mass we renew the covenant that God has established with His people through Jesus Christ. We leave behind the mundane world and enter the world of the divine. The Mass is a foretaste of Heaven, but we cannot see this if our eyes have grown dull with complacency.

God is eternal, He always has something new to teach us. How can we turn away from Him, thinking that our life of faith, our relationship with Him, is “good enough?”

Sometimes it takes an outsider, like the tenth leper, to show us the glory and mystery of what we believe and remind us of the awesome gift that comes from being God’s children.

Pax Vobiscum
28th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Lawrence Klimecki, MSA, is a deacon in the Diocese of Sacramento. He is a public speaker, writer, and artist, reflecting on the intersection of art and faith and the spiritual “hero’s journey” that is part of every person’s life. He maintains a blog at and can be reached at

The Sacred Heart © Lawrence Klimecki

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