View all Novenas | November 15, 2020
Nine Days to Christ the King: Day 4
Meditation Day 4: Christ, Our Healing King
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 (Mark 1:40-42).
The celebration of the feast of Christ the King is about honoring Our Lord Jesus Christ as King and Lord of the world, of history, of the Church, and of our hearts. Yet, it is also a reminder of our need and desire that he might reign more fully in our world, in the events of history, in our Church, and in our hearts. It is a moment to pray fervently for the coming of Christ’s kingdom and also to renew our commitment to serve him as Our King and do our part to extend his reign in our own hearts and in the world around us.
But what does it mean for Jesus to reign in our hearts and in this world? For an answer to this question, we need to take a close-up look at the life of our King himself. How did he spend the three short years of his public life? What did his reign look like while he was here on earth?
If we turn to the Gospels, we find more than one answer to our question, but the countless accounts of his healing the blind, the lame, and the deaf; lepers; and the possessed speak to the centrality of his healing ministry in his mission as king.
Jesus’s primary mission on earth as our King was to heal us. He demonstrated this through countless physical healings of those who came to him in need. He demonstrated it by offering deep spiritual healing to those who were bowed down by the weight of sin. Finally, he demonstrated it to the ultimate consequences by taking our own brokenness upon himself: “it was our infirmities that he bore, our sufferings that he endured” (Isaiah 53:4). What is more, he assumes every imaginable weakness of ours so that, through him, we might be healed: “Upon him was the chastisement that makes us whole, by his stripes we were healed” (Isaiah 53:5).
Our King does not stay aloof from his people, much less from those who are suffering or, still more, “undesirable” to society. He does not hesitate to reach out and touch the eyes of the blind, to place his fingers in the ears of the deaf. He does not waver before the stench of a leper or the unsightly state of an abandoned cripple. He reaches out even to the unclothed madman, thrashing about indecently under the effects of demonic possession. Why is it that we sometimes believe that our own unsightliness is an impediment for him to love us? However ugly our own wounds may be, he is never turned off by them. When he looks upon each one of us, and upon every one of our broken brothers and sisters, he only desires to reach out to draw us close to him and heal us.
Our King reigns when we are made whole. He is glorified through the healing and restoration of each and every one of his children.
Matthew brings this truth home to us in his Gospel when he describes the profoundly tender encounter of Jesus with the leper. This unnamed leper, who stands in the place of any one of us, approached Jesus half expecting a full rejection. He knew he was grossly overstepping his place by approaching Jesus with his request. He was an outcast of society, ordered to stay far away from anyone not likewise inflicted by the plague of leprosy. The stench that emanated from his pus-filled wounds was nauseating for anyone within a stone’s throw. Very likely, he believed himself beyond love, unworthy even to be noticed by Jesus. Thus his faltering words: “Lord, if you wish…” How beautiful Jesus’s immediate response to put him at ease! “Of course I will it…” There is no hesitation when it comes to a question of whether any of his children are worthy of his love. But Jesus’s compassion does not end with his words. He stretches out his hand and touches the leper. We can only imagine how this tender act, touching of the untouchable, must have completely transformed this man’s life.
Christ the King wishes to reign more fully in today’s world, first and foremost by healing each one of us of the hurts and woundedness that only he fully knows. He wants to heal us of the hurts imposed on us by others, the wounds that fester in the deepest parts of our hearts, where perhaps even we ourselves glance only to renew our own shame. He wants to heal us of the hurts lurking in our hearts because of our own weakness and sin, of our judgments, of our superiority or inferiority complexes, of our inability to see our neighbor in need as a brother or sister in him. He wants to heal us, perhaps, of our inability to forgive, even to forgive ourselves. He wants to heal us of our powerlessness to trust, either ourselves or others, or even God himself. He wants to bring healing, and he wants to bring it to the deepest parts of our hearts, those that we often do not dare to acknowledge.
Yet just as he desires to heal us, he desires to heal the broken around us. And to do so, he needs us to be instruments of his healing love. Those he wishes to reach out and touch through us may not have the horrendous physical appearance of a leper. But they may be just as disagreeable and undesirable to us, however, with wounds that are much less apparent and less obviously in need of mercy and compassion. How many times do we keep our distance? How often, deep down, do we consider ourselves superior? How often do we judge, point fingers, assign blame?
As we prepare for the coming solemnity, Christ our healing King has two invitations for us. The first: “Will you show me your wounds and allow me to heal you?” The second: “Will you open your heart to those who need me and allow me to heal them through you?”
We can take a moment to reflect on the steps we might be called to take so as to respond to these two invitations:
- Do I recognize my need for Jesus’s healing? Or do I need to begin by asking him to reveal to me those areas of my heart, of my history, of my family that still need to be healed by him?
- Is there anything impeding me from allowing Christ the King free entry to come and heal my heart? What might it be? Am I willing to give it over to him so that he can help me to lower my barriers and let him in?
- Am I an instrument of healing for others? What might be keeping me from being a better instrument of Christ’s love and healing? What do I need Jesus to heal in me so that I can, in turn, be an instrument of healing for others, starting with those closest to me?
Jesus, my healing King, I, too, am a leper, in need of your mercy and healing. I am not worthy that you should draw near to me, and yet you reach out your hand to touch my wounds where they are least desirable and most painful. I do not want to hide them from you any longer. I want you to heal me. Come and reign in my life by making me whole, and allow me to be an instrument of your healing touch to others.
Jesus, meek and humble of heart, make my heart more like yours.
Did you miss a day? See all the meditations below.