The Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time
(Leviticus 13: 1 – 2, 44 – 46; Ps 32; 1 Cor 10: 31 – 11:1; Mark 1: 40 -= 45)
We heard in Leviticus: “If a man is leprous and unclean, the priest shall declare him unclean…he shall dwell apart making his abode outside the camp.” And one day, the man who approached Jesus found himself declared a leper and unclean – a death sentence! We can suppose that he was married with children and supported his wife and family; it was a normal Jewish life – and then, in a few moments, through an examination, he began to exist in a living death. No hope, no cure, nothing to look forward to except death – and it could not come soon enough.
But the leper had heard of this Jesus of Nazareth, surely of His miracles – so with courage and hope he approached Jesus keeping his distance and kneeling cried out, “If you wish, you can make me clean!” – a heart-rending cry that touched Jesus deeply. Much to the horror of His disciples and those standing around Jesus approached the man and touched him – I believe it was not a quick touch rather Jesus laid His hands on the man’s head – in that act He showed respect to the man’s humanity and dignity – which it seemed he had lost.
Jesus healed him immediately “I do will it…Be made clean!” At Jesus’ word, the leprosy, the horror was over – like it never happened. It was a kind of resurrection in an instant. Jesus’ only request, “Tell no one anything…go to the priest” but the man couldn’t contain himself, how could he? He spoke of it and often so that people then kept coming in greater numbers.
There are any number of lessons we might take from this Gospel that pertain to our own spiritual journey. I offer two.
The ﬁrst – the Gospel proclaims something of the unspeakable mercy of the Lord Jesus – no matter what burden we carry, no matter what sin we have committed, great or small, Jesus is always approachable, always open to us in our humanity, always receptive – such is His unspeakable mercy. In fact, even before we are moved to approach Him in adoration, in praise, in
contrition, in desire, He has already approached us; His hand is outstretched, desiring to touch us in our depths, a touch like no one else’s.
The second I offer has to do with the leper’s cry, actually a prayer; as terrible as his condition was, he did not demand, rather be begged and his plea was very, very respectful, “If you will, you can make me clean!” – “if you will” – aren’t those the very words we pray in the Our Father – Your will be done – they certainly are!
The man placed his trust in Jesus surrendering himself to the Lord’s will – he gave Jesus permission to act – isn’t that what prayer is about? We make our requests, tell the Lord what is in our heart, and the Lord so respects our freedom that He will not enter, take over, carry out His wisdom in whatever way He decides unless we truly say, “Come.” This gift of trust which raises us above our fears, doubts, anxieties is a most blessed grace…priceless.
How sacred we are to the Lord! How deeply and graciously He reverences us, respects our freedom – it is beyond our comprehension. Perhaps, the most important prayer is “Lord, reveal to me who You are, who You are for me. Grant me trust!”