June 27, 2008
Friday of the twelfth week in ordinary time
Matthew 8: 1-4
When Jesus came down from the mountain, great crowds followed him. And then a leper approached, did him homage, and said, "Lord, if you wish, you can make me clean." He stretched out his hand, touched him, and said, "I will do it. Be made clean." His leprosy was cleansed immediately. Then Jesus said to him, "See that you tell no one, but go show yourself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses prescribed; that will be proof for them."
Introductory Prayer: Lord Jesus, I place myself in your presence. I have set aside this moment for you, so that you can speak to me and I can listen to your words. Speak to my heart! I believe that you are present, with all the graces I need right now, in the current circumstances of my life. I hope in you, Lord, because I know I cannot place my hope in the things of the world. I love you, Lord, and I know how much you love me.
Petition: Lord God, heal me where I am sick!
1. Christ’s Touch “He stretched out his hand and touched him.” To reach out and touch a leper, especially in Jesus’ day, was to put oneself in grave danger of catching this awful and incurable disease. The disciples must have been aghast; but Jesus, knowing full well what he was doing, reached out and placed his hand directly on the leper’s raw sores. Christ is not afraid to reach out and touch what repels others; Christ is not afraid to reach out and touch our sinfulness in order to heal us. Indeed, how beautiful it is to imagine the leper approaching Christ, and while everyone else backs off to a safe distance, Jesus moves toward him, reaches out and touches him in healing friendship. We should never be afraid to approach Jesus in prayer and penance, no matter how unworthy we may feel.
2. The Leper’s Faith “His leprosy was cleansed immediately.” As once the great crowd had stepped back in fear, so now they draw close in awe at the miracle that unfolds before their eyes. The raw sores close; the smell of decay fades; suddenly the leper is whole again! What seemed impossible was brought about by the leper’s faith and Christ’s words, “I will do it.” A valuable lesson is found here. There is nothing that is impossible for Christ; we have only to approach him in faith, seek him out, and patiently wait for him to reach out, touch us and make us clean.
3. Tell No One: After such a marvelous miracle, why would Christ ask the leper to tell no one what had just happened? After all, he had just cured him in front of a great crowd, and they had all seen it. Perhaps it is a sign of our Lord’s humility: He is not looking for his own glory or desiring praise. Perhaps it is a lesson meant for the crowd: He did not work this miracle to impress them, but for the good of this ill man. Perhaps again it was meant for the good of the leper: Now that he is cured and his life renewed, he should give thanks to God by doing what the law prescribes. Perhaps it is meant for the priests: By sending the leper to them, Christ demonstrates both his fidelity to the Mosaic Law and the mercy in his heart, teaching that they too should combine both of these elements in their own lives.
Dialogue with Christ: “O burn that burns to heal! O more than pleasant wound! And O soft hand, O touch most delicate, that dost new life reveal, that dost in grace abound, and slaying, dost from death to life translate” (St. John of the Cross, Living Flame of Love).
Resolution: I will make an act of charity to a friend or neighbor who is suffering today.
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