Christ, the Son of God, is always ready and willing to help the sinners who seek forgiveness and repentance. When we are remorseful and ask Him for exoneration, He never gives up on us no matter what we did or said. As a loving Father, He always comes to our rescue when we get ourselves into trouble. He grants us all kinds of graces to safeguard us from falling into the treacherous traps of Satan’s sinful temptations.
Jesus the only Son Of God willingly endured all kinds of humiliation, pain, torture and accepted death on the cross for our sake and salvation. Through His crucifixion He absolved us from the original sin that our first parents Adam and Eve committed. He showed us the righteous ways through which we can return with Him on the Day Of Judgment to His Father’s Heavenly kingdom.
Jesus made his call to the needy, persecuted, sick and sinners loud and clear: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28) The outcast leper believed in Jesus’ call and came to Him asking for cleansing. Jesus took his hand, touched him with love, and responded to his request.
The leper knew deep in his heart that Jesus could cure him from his devastating and shameful leprosy if He is willing to do so. Against all odds he took the hard and right decision to seek out at once Jesus’ mercy.
With solid faith, courage and perseverance the leper approached Jesus and begging him, kneeling down to him, and says to him, “If you want to, you can make me clean.” When he had said this, immediately the leprosy departed from him and he was made clean. Jesus extended His hand and touched him with great passion and strictly warned him, “See you say nothing to anybody, but go show yourself to the priest, and offer for your cleansing the things which Moses commanded, for a testimony to them.” But the leper went out, began to proclaim it much, and spread about the matter so that Jesus could no more openly enter into a city, but was outside in desert places: and they came to him from everywhere. (Mark 1/40-45)
We sinners, all of us, ought to learn from the leper’s great example of faith. Like him we need to endeavour for sincere repentance with heartfelt prayer, begging Almighty God for absolution from all our sins. Honest pursuit of salvation and repentance requires a great deal of humility, honesty, love, transparency and perseverance. Like the leper we must trust in God’s mercy and unwaveringly go after it.
The faithful leper sensed deep inside his conscience that Jesus could cleanse him, but was not sure if he is worth Jesus’ attention and mercy.
His faith and great trust in God made him break all the laws that prohibited a leper from getting close to or touching anybody. He tossed himself at Jesus’ feet scared and trembling. With great love, confidence, meekness and passion he spoke to Jesus saying “If you will, you can make me clean.” He did not mean if you are in a good mood at present. He meant, rather, if it is not out of line with the purpose of God, and if it is not violating some cosmic program God is working out then you can make me clean.
Lepers in the old days were outcasts forced to live in isolation far away from the public. They were not allowed to continue living in their own communities or families. They were looked upon as dead people and forbidden from even entering the synagogues to worship. They were harshly persecuted, deprived of all their basic rights and dealt with as sinners. But in God’s eyes these sick lepers were His children whom He dearly loves and cares for. “Blessed are you when people reproach you, persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven. For that is how they persecuted the prophets who were before you”. Matthew(5/11-12)
The leper trusted in God’s parenthood and did not have any doubts about Jesus’ divinity and power to cleanse and cure him. Without any hesitation, and with a pure heart, he put himself with full submission into Jesus’ hands and will knowing that God our Father cannot but have mercy on His children. “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God”. (Matthew5/8)
We need to take the leper as a role model in our lives. His strong and steadfast faith cured him and put him back into society. We are to know God can do whatever He wants and to trust Him. If He is willing, He will. We just have to trust in the goodness and mercy of God and keep on praying and asking, and He surely will respond in His own way even though many times our limited minds can not grasp His help.
Praying on regular basis as Jesus instructed us to is an extremely comforting ritual: “Therefore I tell you, all things whatever you pray and ask for, believe that you have received them, and you shall have them. Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone; so that your Father, who is in heaven, may also forgive you your transgressions. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your transgressions” (Mark 11/24-26)
The leper’s faith teaches us that God always listens and always responds to our requests when we approach Him with pure hearts, trust, confidence and humbleness. Almighty God is a loving father who loves us all , we His children and all what we have to do to get His attention is to make our requests through praying. “Ask, and it will be given you. Seek, and you will find. Knock, and it will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives. He who seeks finds. To him who knocks it will be opened”. (Matthew 7/8 -9)
N.B: The above piece was first published in year 2015/It is republished with Minor changes
Second Sunday of Great Lent: Sunday of the Man with Leprosy
Saint John of the Cross (1542-1591), Carmelite, Doctor of the Church
The Living Flame of Love, Stanza 2
“Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him”
You, O divine life, never kill unless to give life, never wound unless to heal. When you chastise, Your touch is gentle, but it is enough to destroy the world. When you give delight, You rest very firmly, and thus the delight of Your sweetness is immeasurable. You have wounded me in order to cure me, O divine hand, and You have put to death in me what made me lifeless, deprived me of God’s life in which I now see myself live. You granted this with the liberality of Your generous grace, which You used in contacting me with the touch of the splendor of Your glory and the figure of Your substance [Heb 1:3], which is Your only begotten Son, through Whom, being Your substance, You touch mightily from one end to the other. [Wis 8:1] And Your only begotten Son, O merciful hand of the Father, is the delicate touch by which You touched me with the force of Your cautery and wounded me.
O You, then, delicate touch, the Word, the Son of God, through the delicacy of Your divine being, You subtly penetrate the substance of my soul and, lightly touching it all, absorb it entirely in Yourself in divine modes of delights and sweetnesses unheard of in the land of Canaan and never before seen in Theman! [Bar 3:22] O, then, very delicate, exceedingly delicate, touch of the Word, so much the more delicate for me insofar as, after overthrowing the mountains and smashing the rocks to pieces on Mount Horeb with the shadow of might and power that went before You, You gave the prophet the sweetest and strongest experience of Yourself in the gentle breeze! [1 Kings 19:11-12] O gentle breeze, since You are a delicate and mild breeze, tell us: How do You, the Word, the Son of God, touch mildly and gently, since You are so awesome and mighty? Oh, happy is the soul that You, being terrible and strong, gently and lightly touch! … “You hide them in the secret of Your face,” which is the Word, “from the disturbance of men.” [Ps 31:21]
Sunday of the Man with Leprosy Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Mark 1,35-45/In the morning, while it was still very dark, Jesus got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed. And Simon and his companions hunted for him. When they found him, they said to him, ‘Everyone is searching for you.’ He answered, ‘Let us go on to the neighbouring towns, so that I may proclaim the message there also; for that is what I came out to do.’ And he went throughout Galilee, proclaiming the message in their synagogues and casting out demons. A leper came to him begging him, and kneeling he said to him, ‘If you choose, you can make me clean.’ Moved with pity, Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, and said to him, ‘I do choose. Be made clean!’ Immediately the leprosy left him, and he was made clean. After sternly warning him he sent him away at once, saying to him, ‘See that you say nothing to anyone; but go, show yourself to the priest, and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.’ But he went out and began to proclaim it freely, and to spread the word, so that Jesus could no longer go into a town openly, but stayed out in the country; and people came to him from every quarter.