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“If You Wish, Lord”
Thursday of the First Week in Ordinary Time
A leper came to him [and kneeling down] begged him and said, “If you wish, you can make me clean.” Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand, touched him, and said to him, “I do will it. Be made clean.” The leprosy left him immediately, and he was made clean. Then, warning him sternly, he dismissed him at once. Then he said to him, “See that you tell no one anything, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer for your cleansing what Moses prescribed; that will be proof for them.” The man went away and began to publicize the whole matter. He spread the report abroad so that it was impossible for Jesus to enter a town openly. He remained outside in deserted places, and people kept coming to him from everywhere.
Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, grant that in every challenging situation, my prayer will also be “if you wish.” Let your will be what I will too.
- “If You Wish”: The leper teaches us a lesson in true obedience to God’s will. The proper disposition before God is a humble heart that requests what we think we need, always aware that God has the bigger picture. 1 Timothy 2:4 reminds us that “God desires all people to be saved.” This is a far wider scope than the healing of my sore toe, a broken leg, and even the most aggressive of cancers. While the Lord is capable of healing the worst case scenario, he is also capable of working the greatest of invisible miracles—the sanctity of one’s soul through faith, sometimes the darkness of faith. Like the leper, let our prayer be steeped in the attitude of “if you wish Lord.”
- “I Do Will It”: The leper had requested to “be made clean.” On a spiritual level, this is equivalent to purity of heart. Purity of heart, will, mind, and conscience is the cure the Lord wishes to work in our lives. When it seems that life circumstances are purifying me, I hear him say those words, “I do will it.” I seek to live by faith and trust that he can work good for those who love God (Romans 8:28).
- “Show Yourself to the Priest”: The law of Moses prescribed the ritual purification of a leper before he could return to society. Miriam was struck with a skin disease for her disobedience. The Lord commanded that she be separated from the people for seven days and then be brought back (Numbers 12:10-15). Naaman, an army commander, was ordered to wash seven times in the Jordan to be cleansed of his leprosy (2 Kings 5:1-14). In both cases, God worked a cleansing, a purification through obedience. Miriam did not want to feel “castigated” from her people for seven days. Naaman ridiculed the notion of dipping himself seven times in the waters. But that was the Lord’s command and the required purification for reentry to communion. After Jesus cured the leper, he sent the man to the priests. His intention was not to show off his power, but to open the way for reentry into the community. Jesus also seeks to open the path to our fullness of communion. That path is marked by obedience and purification. And many times, obedience is sufficient purification!
Conversing with Christ: Lord Jesus, you desire my ultimate good, which is full communion with you in eternal life. Help me to keep the big picture in mind and assent in loving obedience to living a Christian attitude of faith, hope, and love.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace, I will examine a difficulty in light of how I am responding with faith and trust in God’s ultimate desire for my purification (holiness).
For Further Reflection: Fr. Mike Schmitz on The Meaning of Suffering, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tR25hk8NVio.
Jennifer Ristine is a consecrated woman of Regnum Christi who is dedicated to spiritual and faith formation through teaching, conferences, writing, and spiritual direction. While serving in Ancient Magdala she wrote Mary Magdalene: Insights from Ancient Magdala.