Scripture Reading for Today: Luke 5:12-16 (read it here)
Jesus was “in one of the towns”—perhaps on the outskirts, for lepers were not generally seen inside cities and towns.
Given the Old Testament legislation that lepers had to be completely ostracized and separated from all forms of social interaction, it is remarkable that “a man full of leprosy” approached close enough to Jesus to be touched by him.
The leper did not know whether the help he craved would be given to him, but there was nothing wrong in asking, and he did this in a most humble manner. He dropped to his knees, lowered his face to the ground, and implored Jesus to cleanse him.
He was sure of Jesus’ power to heal; but he wasn’t certain Jesus would be willing to cleanse him. We know this because he said, “If you wish.” But he submitted himself to Jesus’ disposition, hoping eagerly that he too would be the recipient of Jesus’ healing power and mercy.
Often the Gospels speak of Jesus’ healing touch, which came straight from his all-powerful will and his compassionate heart. There was healing power in that touch because he was, and is, “touched by the feeling of our infirmities.”
The leper’s “if you wish” encountered Jesus’ quick and joyous “I will do it.” Jesus’ concern for the suffering man joined his power, and a condition of repulsive disease was transformed into one of complete and instantaneous good health. One moment the man was “full of leprosy,” and the next moment not a speck of the disease was left on his skin.
Exactly why the cured man was ordered to be silent is not clearly indicated. Was it in order not to begin a nationalistic movement centered on Jesus. Was it to prevent a wrong conception of Jesus’ character and identity, as if he were primarily a miracle-worker?
Also, with the prohibition, Jesus issued a positive command. He ordered the cleansed leper to present himself to the priest, so that he could be restored to full social and religious fellowship with his people. If he passed the inspection and the priest considered him cured, he was to bring the required offering.
You see, when the priests would see the man and hear that it was Jesus who had so completely and instantly cured him, they would have irrefutable testimony to Jesus’ power and love.
But despite Jesus wish for silence, news about him continued to spread, and more vast crowds were gathering to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses. Instead of silence, there were voices, and it was as if these voices were saying, “Now we’ll advertise him more than ever.”
So, again and again, Jesus withdrew himself and stole away to lonely places. In this withdrawal Jesus poured out his heart in prayer in order that his body and soul might be replenished from his Father’s inexhaustible resources.
In the Eucharist Christ also touches us and heals us of our infirmities of body, soul, and will, and enables us to do what he would like us to do.
Let us also reach out to the marginalized and to the “lepers of our society.”
Learning from Mary, let us also spend more time in prayer and meditation on his word.
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Let us make this a blessed day.
Keep Jesus in your mind and heart and share him with all you meet.
Fr. Michael Brizio, IMC
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