February 15, 2009
Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time
A leper came to Jesus 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.
Introductory Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank you for letting me begin this week contemplating your infinite mercy and love for me. I need your healing touch to become the saint you created me to be. I know you want to heal me because you gave me the gift of my faith: to know and love you and experience the intense joy in following you.
Petition: Lord, I want to be made clean. Touch my heart and heal me with your merciful love.
1. In Need of Healing
Like the leper in this Gospel, I, too, am in need of healing. He came humbly, as a beggar, for he had no way of repaying Jesus for such a great act of kindness. But his humility was founded on faith. Confident in the scriptural passage, “Do not reject a suppliant in distress, or turn your face away from the poor” (Sirach 4:4), he insisted reverently. He had no doubt that Jesus could cure him, that Jesus would take interest in an insignificant and anonymous leper. He was asking Our Lord for a miracle, and he knew Jesus would grant it. He also knew that he did not deserve or merit such a gesture of mercy. Even if Jesus refused his plea, he was ready to accept it.
2. Moved with Pity
Jesus was moved with pity. He stretched out his hand to touch the leper, revealing God the Father’s will in a tender way: “I do will it. Be made clean.” Jesus was moved more by the leper’s humble faith than by his leprosy. The leper’s plea struck at the very core of the mission of the Redeemer. Jesus desires nothing more than to remove sin and its effect in us. Jesus “came into the world to save sinners” (1 Timothy 1:15) and said, “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly” (John 10:10). The gesture of charity towards the leper foreshadows Christ’s redemptive death for all mankind. Jesus wants to reach out to touch our heart and heal us, too. We believe this to be true. All we need to do is let him, approaching him with humility and exercising our faith.
3. Changed Forever
The encounter with Jesus changed the leper’s life forever. Rather than an encounter with love, it was an encounter of love. Every encounter requires someone’s initiative. Although the leper is the one to approach Jesus, is it not Jesus who first makes himself accessible? In the same way, Jesus had initiated the encounter with his first disciples when he walked along the shores of Lake Tiberius, allowing Andrew and John to ask, “Rabbi, where are you staying?” (John 1:38). Lord Jesus, you enter into my life because you want to show me the way to everlasting life with you. Is it not you, kind and gentle Lord, who invites me: “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28)?
Conversation with Christ: Lord Jesus, you are so merciful to me! Thank you for loving me so much. How anxiously you wait to fill me with your love, to heal me from the leprosy of my sins. Help me to be open to your embrace of healing love, confident that each time I kneel before you to beg your forgiveness, you will be moved with pity to touch me and make me clean.
Resolution: Today, I will imitate God’s merciful love in my own life with everyone with whom I enter into contact: family, fellow employees, friends.
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