In the ancient world, leprosy was a deadly and terrifying disease.
Besides the disfiguring sores, the oozing pus, and the shame of being considered accursed by God, lepers were social outcasts. They were required by the Law of Moses to live apart from human society, and wherever they went they had to rend their garments and shout, Unclean, unclean (Lv 13:45)….
As Jesus was traveling from village to village in Galilee, a leper approached him with surprising boldness. This man must have heard the rumors about Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth who was healing the sick, and in his desperation he resolved to act. Braving the disapproval and disgust of others, he came and knelt before Jesus and voiced his plea: If you will, you can make me clean (Mk 1:40).
Seeing the man's wretched condition, Jesus was moved with compassion. The Greek word means physically churned up or stirred with gut-wrenching emotion. It was the deeply human reaction of the Son of God. Jesus never looked upon afflicted people with detachment or indifference, but always with the empathy that comes from knowing the human condition from within. We can imagine the love in his eyes as he replied, I do will it. Be made clean: Does he will to make a man whole, to undo the ravages of the fall? This is what he came for!
According to the Law of Moses, any contact with a leper would render a person unclean. The crowd standing nearby must have gasped in astonishment as they watched Jesus deliberately reach out and touch the man. And before their eyes, the leprosy disappeared.... Instead of the unclean contaminating the clean, the clean had triumphed, as was indisputably proven by the fact that the man was no longer a leper. Jesus' holiness is invincible. No defilement can contaminate him; rather, he removes defilement from whoever approaches him in faith. It is a powerful message for those who feel unworthy even to approach him.
Mary Healy. "Be made clean." excerpt from Healing: Bringing the Gift of God's Mercy to the World (Huntington, IN: Our Sunday Visitor, 2015).
Published by Our Sunday Visitor, Inc., Huntington, IN, www.osv.com, 1-800-348-2440. Used with permission of Our Sunday Visitor.
Mary Healy is professor of Sacred Scripture at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit and an international speaker on topics related to Scripture, evangelization, healing, and the spiritual life. Dr. Healy is chair of the Theological Commission of CHARIS (Charismatic Renewal International Service) in Rome. In 2014 Pope Francis appointed her as one of the first three women ever to serve on the Pontifical Biblical Commission. She is the author of Healing: Bringing the Gift of God’s Mercy to the World, Scripture, Mercy, and Homosexuality, Deliverance Ministry, and co-author of The Spiritual Gifts Handbook: Using Your Gifts to Build the Kingdom. Her web site is here.Copyright © 2015 Our Sunday Visitor
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