by Rev. Jack Peterson, YA
Reprinted by permission of "The Arlington Catholic Herald"
To Sunday Gospel Reflections Index
Mark wrote to explain Christ
to the new Gentile converts.
A leper came to Jesus and kneeling down begged him and said, "If you wish, you can make me clean." Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand, touched him, and said to him, "I do will it. Be made clean." The leprosy left him immediately, and he was made clean. Then, warning him sternly, he dismissed him at once.
He said to him, "See that you tell no one anything, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer for your cleansing what Moses prescribed; that will be proof for them."
The man went away and began to publicize the whole matter. He spread the report abroad so that it was impossible for Jesus to enter a town openly. He remained out-side in deserted places, and people kept coming to him from everywhere.
We are just a month out from the end of the Christmas season, yet we have in our Gospel today a powerful example of childlike faith. A leper comes up to Jesus, kneels down and pleads, "If you wish, you can make me clean."
Children, when they grow up in a solid home, place enormous trust in their parents. It is a beautiful thing to watch. Children simply trust that mom and dad will protect them from danger, provide for their basic needs, be present and guide them at critical moments, and get them the best help when they are sick.
In response to the leper today, Jesus is moved with pity, stretches out his hand to touch the disease-ridden man, and says, "I do will it. Be made clean."
Our Lord cares deeply for this man. Indeed, his heart is moved with pity for all of his horrible pain and suffering. Jesus surprises him by drawing close and touching him. Because of his leprosy, this suffering soul has had to spend his life on the outskirts of town, ringing a bell and shouting "Unclean! Unclean!" whenever people draw near. Jesus is not afraid of him or his disease. Jesus loves this man and makes it clear that he is precious to the Son of God.
Our Christian faith teaches us that the leper represents all of us. We are all sick and in need of healing. We might in fact be physically sick at this moment in our lives, but every one of us carries the disease of sin.
Thanks to a condition that we have all inherited from our distant parents, Adam and Eve, our nature has been compromised. The wonderful state of original grace in which we were so lovingly created was seriously damaged. We no longer see and choose the good and the true with great ease and quickness. In fact, we are quite frail and weak. We know what we should do in a particular instance and we donít do it out of selfishness. We know when we should avoid a different sinful act and we do it anyway, out of weakness. We focus on what we want or what makes us happy and neglect the needs of those around us. We fail to live our lives generously as a loving self-gift to family, friends or our neighbor in need. Even if we are pretty consistent in our love, we have our weak moments and wander from the ways of the Lord.
We are all lepers, in a spiritual sense. Consequently, we greatly need the mercy and healing of our Savior.
Christ is amazing. Christ sees me as I truly am. He knows the truth in my heart and reads the state of my soul. He is so pleased when I come before him and ask for what I truly need. Every time I go to him in confession, he draws near, is moved with pity, stretches out his hand and says to me, "I do will it. Be made clean."
When was the last time you approached Jesus with childlike faith in the sacrament of penance, and cried out, "If you wish, you can make me clean?"
Following this healing encounter, Jesus challenges the man to tell no one anything about who brought about this marvelous cleansing. The crowds were growing and it was getting very difficult for Jesus to carry out His mission of preaching, teaching and healing.
However, it was impossible for this man whose skin was clean and whose heart was on fire to remain quiet: "The man went away and began to publicize the whole matter. He spread the report abroad Ö " How could he do otherwise? He just had to share the good news of his encounter with Christ and his power to heal and restore us physically and spiritually.
How committed are you to sharing the good news of Jesus Christ with those whom God has placed in your world? Is your heart on fire with a love for Christ that drives you to share with others this great joy in your soul?
May our hearts and lives ring out with the words of our psalm for today, "Be glad in the Lord and rejoice, you just: exult, all you upright of heart" (Ps 32:11).