Thursday, The First Week in Ordinary Time
(Hebrews 3: 7 – 14; Ps 95; Mark 1: 40 – 45)
In reﬂecting on the Gospel, these questions came to my mind: what did this event mean for Jesus in His sacred humanity and what did this event mean for the leper, a man who was the living dead?
The leper is given no name – because he is anyone who is burdened in any way – and he approaches Jesus yet keeps his distance; in his begging, he uses a phrase that echoes the Lord’s Prayer – “If you wish – Your will be done – if you wish, you can make me clean.” It was an act of profound belief and his words, it seems to me, were of great courtesy – there was no demand. I could picture the man speaking in almost a whisper, face to the ground, fearful yet hoping.
By the leper’s approach and plea, I believe Jesus was affirmed in His identity and Jesus looked on him with grateful love. Not only did He gaze on the poor man but He walked to him and touched him – a touch that healed instantly and a touch of Jesus’ gratitude for the man’s faith in Him: “If you wish, you can make me clean!” Jesus touched the untouchable – a man who had known only isolation, the loss of everything, a man who waited and hoped for death – his only escape and it could not be too soon.
Jesus, in touching him, said with a forceful passion, “I do will it. Be made clean!” He spoke the creative word and in a millisecond the leper once dead became alive through the One who is the Resurrection and the Life.
It is both an account of a miraculous healing and a teaching on faith. In one of his books Pope Benedict XVI wrote this: “The essence of faith is that I do not meet with something that has been thought up, but that here something meets me that is greater than anything we can think of for ourselves…that God is so great that He can become small… that He is able to bow down so low” – this is worth repeating: “God is so great that He can become small… that He is able to bow down so low”
In faith, by God’s grace, like the leper, we approach our Lord who bows down so low to you, to me, and touches us.