January 14, 2021 (readings)
- Thursday of the First Week in Ordinary Time
- Leah Nguyen
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. 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.
Opening Prayer: Lord, I know that I need healing. I can see my flaws and infidelities. I come to you with my hands open, asking for your touch. Come to me now, and help me to see how I can be fully restored in you.
1. Kneeling Down: The leper was an outcast who was required by law to keep his distance from others for fear of contagion (Leviticus 13:46). Yet he approached Jesus, knelt down, and begged him for healing. The leper’s humble request “If you wish,” and attitude as he knelt before Jesus, demonstrated his sincere desire for healing. Jesus touched the leper and showed his unconditional love for him. How would the leper’s life change after his encounter with Christ? Do we believe in Jesus’s unconditional love for us and approach him with a humble heart? How do our actions show openness to the Lord’s healing touch in prayer and the sacraments?
2. Obedience Brings Peace: Jesus, after healing the leper “immediately,” asked him to do two simple things: go to the priest to complete his ceremonial cleansing (Leviticus 14), and “tell no one anything.” We don’t know if the leper visited the priest or not, but in spite of the healing he received, he didn’t respect Jesus’s request to be silent about it. Because he spread around the news of his healing, he made it difficult for Jesus to work. Do we ever get in the way of the Holy Spirit in our life? We can speculate that this man’s disobedience prevented others from drawing close to Christ for healing. Our sin has negative consequences beyond our own spiritual health. “Sin ...wounds the nature of man and injures human solidarity” (CCC #1849).
3. Be Made Clean: Leprosy was a horrible disease and the cure would have been remarkable to behold. Physical healings always are! Even more miraculous but harder to measure or observe would have been a spiritual healing. “Jesus has the power not only to heal, but also to forgive sins; he has come to heal the whole man, soul and body” (CCC 1503-5) Jesus offered the leper a physical healing, but we don’t know if he received a spiritual one. We do know that he immediately disobeyed Jesus. All of us who approach Jesus through the sacrament of reconciliation receive a miraculous spiritual healing, whether we feel anything or not. Even when we fall repeatedly we know we can return to the sacrament again and again and “firmly resolve, with the help of his grace, to sin no more and avoid the near occasion of sin” (Act of Contrition). Jesus always desires to give us “a new heart” (CCC 1432).
Conversing with Christ: Lord, I want to be healed. Please come into my heart. As I kneel before you, I ask you to cleanse me of disobedience and fear. I am very grateful for the opportunity to start again and again by being forgiven through the sacrament of reconciliation. Lord, through your grace, I want to love well.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will pray the Jesus Prayer: “Lord Jesus Christ, son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” I will resolve to be healed from sin by going to confession at the next opportunity.
For Further Reflection: The Benefits of Frequent Confession by Father John Bartunek, LC.
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