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Mind, Body, and Soul
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 the leper, 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, how I need your healing in my own life! Today I kneel before you, and I beg, that if you wish, I may be made clean.
- Kneeling and Begging: Leprosy was a dreaded disease, and in the time of Jesus lepers were considered unclean and had to live segregated from society. The pain and discomfort of their illness were made even worse by the loss of the comfort they needed from other human beings. This leper was truly in a sad state. It took tremendous courage to break the societal rules isolating lepers and seek out Jesus. He prostrated himself and begged to be made clean. Even though this was a life or death matter for the leper, he didn’t demand healing from Jesus. Instead, he told Jesus that he knew his healing would occur only if Jesus wished it. Is this our posture when interceding with the Lord for blessings, conversion, healings, etc.? Do we beg in the words Jesus taught us during his Agony in the Garden, “yet, not as I will, but as you will” (Matthew 26:39)?
- Healing Touch: The leper’s bravery, faith, and humility were richly rewarded. Jesus did the unthinkable for a man of his time. He reached out and touched the leper, this man with a dreadful and highly contagious disease. Moved with pity, Jesus had not let the human revulsion and fear of contagion stop him from his healing mission. As “other Christs” we are called to reach out to the disenfranchised in much the same way Jesus did. Pope Francis calls all members of the church to be “welcoming those who do not think as we do, who do not have faith or who have lost it. Welcoming the persecuted, the unemployed. Welcoming the different cultures, of which our earth is so richly blessed. Welcoming sinners…” (Pope Francis, July 12, 2015).
- Can You Keep a Secret?: Did Jesus know that it would be almost impossible for the leper to keep this healing a secret? Perhaps the leper tried to keep the secret—but how could he explain the fact that he had been deathly ill and was now the picture of health? As his amazing story spread throughout the region, Jesus and his followers felt the consequences. They couldn’t enter a town openly because of the crowds. As we will see later in the Gospels, the crowds still came to Jesus, so his ministry wasn’t thwarted by this man’s disobedience. Truly, God is never limited by our actions. But he desires our faithfulness and fidelity for our own good.
Conversation with Christ: Jesus, please make me aware of my deep need to be made clean. I place my mind, body, and soul into your care.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will make an act of faith, asking for healing of mind, body, and soul, if you will it.
For Further Reflection: Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” He took along Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to feel sorrow and distress. Then he said to them, “My soul is sorrowful even to death. Remain here and keep watch with me.” He advanced a little and fell prostrate in prayer, saying, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet, not as I will, but as you will.” When he returned to his disciples he found them asleep (Matthew 26:36-40).
Cathy Stamper lives in Maryland with her husband, Mike. They have been partners in marriage and business for over thirty-one years. They are grateful for their five young adult children and large extended family.