View all Gospel Reflections |
Friday after Epiphany
Now there was a man full of leprosy in one of the towns where he was; and when he saw Jesus, he fell prostrate, pleaded with him, and said, “Lord, if you wish, you can make me clean.” Jesus stretched out his hand, touched him, and said, “I do will it. Be made clean.” And the leprosy left him immediately. Then he ordered him not to tell anyone, but “Go, show yourself to the priest and offer for your cleansing what Moses prescribed; that will be proof for them.” The report about him spread all the more, and great crowds assembled to listen to him and to be cured of their ailments, but he would withdraw to deserted places to pray.
Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, in this moment of prayer I come before you and place myself at your feet. Give me the patience to gently set aside the rushing distractions in my mind and heart and open that space within me to you. I believe that you are happy I am here, that you wish to give yourself to me, and that you are faithful. Cleanse my heart today and strengthen me by your grace.
- Full of Leprosy: Imagine the smell, the sight of this man full of leprosy so far progressed. It was a human illness that the healthy could do nothing about but shun, hide from, and shamefully and quietly try to forget. This man was someone’s brother, someone’s son. Yet, according to the law, he had to be cast out and left to this infirmity’s painful progression. Now, the physical disease is rare and curable, yet spots of spiritual leprosy within us are all too common. Do we have a soul-sickness, something within that needs healing, but which cannot be healed on our own? Do we shun, hide from, or shamefully and quietly try to forget these sore spots, binding them tightly under layers of metaphorical bandages? Or do we, like this leper, prostrate ourselves before the only one who has the power to heal our leprosy?
- Filled with Something Else: What did the leper do? He stepped out of the shadows that hid him and sought Jesus. Finding Jesus, he fell prostrate—an expression of total surrender and openness. And he pleaded with great trust in Jesus’s power. “If you wish,” he said, which is another way of affirming that “you can.” How differently Jesus received him than many others might have. Others would take pity on the leper and feel sorry for him, but none could enter and redeem his sickness as Christ did. Pity feels sorry from the outside. Christ’s love redeems and heals from the inside out. Jesus did not shun, hide from, or shame this brother and child of God. He saw the faith behind this marred visage. He saw the leper’s openness to receive healing and granted it.
- “Go…” Go, Jesus told the one who was once a leper. Go, and let your healing be proof to them of the sincerity of your faith. This command to the leper calls to mind the command Christ will make to his apostles and to us, the Great Commission to “Go, make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:16). On his way to make the offering, others saw and recognized the healed man as the former leper. By his testimony of God’s goodness and power, he became a disciple. He brought others to Jesus to find healing for themselves. What message do my life and witness proclaim?
Conversing with Christ: Jesus, I am like this leper. I come to you in great need, for I cannot heal myself. I come to you with trust. You know what’s on my heart and I believe that, if you wish, you can make me clean, make me more like you. Let your healing take root in my soul. I quiet my soul to receive your response—it may come with words, or it may not. But I believe it always comes with grace. Heal me and make me your instrument for others.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will try to receive others the way that Christ has received me through this prayer.
For Further Reflection: Delve into Matthew 28:16-20 and ask the Holy Spirit how he is asking you to live out the Great Commission.
Beth Van de Voorde is a Regnum Christi Consecrated Woman, currently serving in pastoral ministry to families in Madrid, Spain. When she’s not reading Ratzinger or humming along to some song or another, you may find her making her pilgrim way through Spain’s timeless history of faith, walking alongside the beautiful families she’s there to serve.