Repentance and Healing

Matthew 8: 1-4
2 Kgs 25: 1-12 / Ps 137: 1- 6

Jesus stretched out His hand, touched him and said “I do will it! Be made clean!” His leprosy was cleansed at once.
(Matthew 8:3)

He showed us the love that made us clean
His great compassion that set us free;
Be healed from the leprosy of sin
Just go to Jesus on bended knee.

When Jesus came down from the mountain, great crowds followed Him. And behold, a leper came to him and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.” And Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, “I will; be clean.” And immediately his leprosy was cleansed. And Jesus said to him, “See that you say nothing to anyone, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer the gift that Moses commanded, for a proof to them.” (Matthew 8:1-4)

Reflection

Before our Lord ‘cleansed’ the leper of his social disease, He had been teaching His followers about the various kinds of uncleanness of the spirit, like anger, adultery, divorce, swearing (making false oaths), retaliating against one’s enemies, love of money, and being judgmental of others. He also taught them the virtues needed to be cleansed of these defilements, like loving one’s enemies, almsgiving, prayer, fasting, and dependence on God’s providence. The crowds were astonished at His teaching, for He taught them as One having authority. (Mt.7:28-29) And to prove the authenticity of His teachings, He showed them His power to restore to health many considered an incurable disease — the scourge of the living dead — leprosy.

What set apart the leper from the other sick people who sought Jesus’ healing was exactly that – the disease set him apart from community. Unlike the lame, the blind, the paralyzed and other patients, he was ostracized from society, banned from ever associating with other people, except lepers like himself. When Jesus told the leper after he was cured to “go show yourself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses prescribed,” this was to begin his process of re-integration into society. Those who were healed of other ailments did not need to go to the priest for any such rituals.

It is also important to note that other sick people who came to Jesus asked Him to heal them of their various ailments, but only the leper asked to be made clean. This scourge must have been regarded as the ultimate punishment for man’s depravity. It presents to us the most accurate symbol of man’s condition when he falls into the state of mortal sin, which sets himself apart from God’s community. We have had brothers and sisters who ostracize themselves from our Brotherhood by no longer attending our breakfast fellowships and prayer meetings. Their convenient excuse is of being too busy, but perhaps some may have fallen into the modern “leprosy” of gambling, adultery, or other vices. It is our duty to reach out to them and remind them of Christ’s desire for them to be made clean once more, and be restored to His fold. We have His legacy in the Sacrament of Reconciliation to be cleansed of all our sins. Like the leper in today’s Gospel passage, we must first realize that we need to be cleansed in order to be restored to the community of God’s children. Then we have to go to Him and ask Him (through the priest) to “touch” our heart with His healing power in the sacrament of Penance. Finally, we have to believe that we have been healed, thanking God for His divine mercy, and resolving to be transformed by His grace.

Like the leper in today’s Gospel, Lord, we bow down to You, and ask You to cleanse us of all our sins, take away all impurities from our hearts to be worthy of You. Amen.

Comments are closed.