Be Made Clean
We all have empathy for people who are plagued with life-long diseases and suffering that can leave them sad and anxious. Life seems so unfair at times. Leprosy was one such disease that isolated victims from family and society because it was so contagious. It took a lot of courage to be near such people. St. Damien was a priest who gave his live to serve lepers on the island of Molokai, until the disease took his life as well. These days the disease is treatable and many recover from its symptoms.
The leper in the gospel says to Jesus that he has the power to make him clean. Interestingly, on a spiritual level Jesus has the power to make each of us clean through the forgiveness of sin, but we need to ask. Jesus says; “I will do it. Be made clean.” On several occasions Jesus healed lepers which caused great amazement among the people. The physical healing was important to each person. But a deep healing occurred on a personal and communal level. The lepers had their dignity restored. They felt the love of God in a new way, and could now live a normal life. That is a miracle, too.
It is odd that Jesus tells the man to keep the healing a secret. “See that you tell no one anything, but go, show yourself to the priests.” Biblical scholars refer to St. Mark’s account of the story as the “Messianic secret.” Of course it was impossible to keep the healing a secret, and we would not fault the man for telling the whole world that he no longer suffered from leprosy. In time Jesus realized that there was no way to keep his healing and miraculous powers secret. More and more people flocked to Jesus and he could not hide any longer.
The leprosy that we all suffer from is called sin. Jesus brings healing to all of us on a daily basis when we have repentance in our hearts. When we gather for Eucharist we give thanks for blessings received even as we anticipate more blessings to come. At the beginning of Mass our prayers are focused on praise, gratitude and forgiveness long before we intercede for the needs of the Church and society. Honoring God this way brings additional blessings to believers. It is the daily bread we ask for in the Lord’s Prayer.
Fr. Michael Salvagna, CP