Thursday, 1st Week in Ordinary Time
“I do will it. Be made clean.”
The Book of Leviticus prescribes that the one who bears the sore leprosy shall keep his garments rent and his head bare, and when he sees a clean person coming near him, he must cry out, “Unclean, unclean!” Lepers are forbidden to enter the city or Temple. No one is to speak or mingle with them. Anyone who touches a leper is considered unclean and impure, prohibited from participating in any Temple sacrifice and worship.
Jesus does exactly the opposite: he interacts with a leper. He stretches out his hand, he touches the leper, and he speaks with him – saying: “I do will it. Be made clean.” What moves Jesus to do this? COMPASSION. He helped the needy, he fed the hungry, he cured the sick, he forgave sinners, he comforted those in misery, he warned with stern words the proud and unrepentant, he taught the people who were like sheep without a shepherd… all this he did because he was moved with compassion.
What is striking in this healing story is the ‘challenge’ that the leper throws at Jesus: “If you wish, you can make me clean.” More than a challenge, however, it is a declaration of the leper’s complete trust in Jesus healing power. He is equivalently saying, “Just will it and I am sure I will be clean again.” “Just as the leper is certain of Jesus’ power, so Jesus is determined to fulfill the leper’s wish.” (365 Days with the Lord – 2015)
God is not indifferent to our pain and suffering, as we sometimes think. God wills to make us clean – in my mind, heart, and soul. He wills to heal us of our affliction – physical illness, mental disturbance, and spiritual dryness. He wills to free us from guilt and regrets about the past and from worries and fears about the future. He wills to liberate us from everything that enslaves us – attachment, compulsion or addiction. He wills to cleanse us of envy and jealousy, of anger and hatred, of malice and lust, of selfishness and sinfulness.
Let us pray that we may have the honesty to own our weakness, the humility to acknowledge our need of God’s healing, the courage to approach the Lord Jesus personally and beg for what exactly we want, imitating the leper, “Lord, if you wish, you can make me clean.” Have faith and hear the Lord speak: “I do will it. Be made clean.”