Commentary on the Gospel of
I write these things to you so that you may know
“Lord, if you wish, you can make me clean.”
I love this story of Jesus being approached by a many with leprosy. In the man's day, this was a social disease. A sign of "uncleaness" - meaning the person was unable to worship in public. The leper had to live on the outskirts of a town and when anyone approached, the person had to shout, "Unclean!" to warn of his contageous disease and the ritual prohibition that someone would acquire by encountering the leper.
This man falls down in front of Jesus and pleads, "Lord, if you wish, you can make me clean." He reveals to Jesus that he believes Jesus can heal him. Jesus, in effect, says, "Of course I want to." But, first, Jesus does the most remarkable thing in this story: He reaches out and touches the man, to reasure him that he's not untouchable. Then he responds to the man's faith and says, "Be made clean."
When we watch this story, it is hard not to simply fall in love with Jesus. Who does this, except someone who loves deeply? Jesus, completely unconcerned for his own safety, or worried about ritual impurity, just reaches out the man in deep empathy and compassion. Our heart melts as we witness the scene.
The great news is that Jesus looks on us in our need in the same way. He knows how we feel about ourselves. He sees through the ways we present ourselves on the outside. He sees whatever pain we have and he reaches out to us. This story lets us boldly imagine approaching Jesus today and saying, in our own words, with our own pain, "Lord, if you want to, I believe you can make me clean. I believe you can relieve this thing in me that is self-defeating, this thing I "caught" somehow and it has a hold on me and isolates me from others." And, we can prepare ourselves to hear his most graceous and merciful response, "Of course, I want to. Be clean. Be healed. Be set free. Be whole again."
And, when we are whole again, we will be full of gratitude and know that we have eternal life in him. We can be bold in touching and relieving the isolation of other sin pain. What a joyful gift.