Daily Reflection – 1/16/2020
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. (Mark 1:40-45)
Jesus did not see a “leper,” but rather he saw a human being in great need. Jesus put people ahead of norms, public or religious pressures, stigmas and rumors. Jesus put God and people first, and did not succumb to the social pressures of his day. By so doing, not only did he acknowledge the man ‘s dignity and worth, but publicly restored it. Jesus took a great risk by touching this person, but this is in fact the sort of risks that love takes.
It’s the risk that we must take, day in and day out. We live in a culture where labels abound. Political figures encourage us to use labels so we can sort out “the good from the bad” How often do you succumb to that? Or do you stop and consider the human being, try to understand his or her perspective ? Worse yet, does your use of a label preclude you from even considering the humanity of another?
There is another perspective of Jesus that emerges so clearly He had been at the center of a renewal movement in Galilee, a kind of toast of the town But all this changed when he met the man with leprosy. As a result of his healing the man, Jesus is the one who has to stay in “deserted places” By touching this man, Jesus took the man’s uncleanness upon himself instead.
In a way, this switch is a foreshadowing of the cross. Jesus became an outsider, despised and rejected, so that we could become insiders in his heavenly kingdom. Can you imagine? First, the infinite and eternal God became a vulnerable, helpless baby. Then, throughout his life, he endured exclusion, misunderstanding, and ridicule. Only the purest, most sacrificial love could accept all of this for the sake of redeeming a people lost in sin.
Can you imagine yourself ever knowingly taking a role similar to that? Would you ever stand up for the marginalized, the outcast, those that stand outside of “normal behavior.” Would you stand with them? Would you stand up for them? Would you risk being called “one of them” because of your concern for them?
All who have been healed, restored, liberated, revived by Jesus Christ are called to have that same heart of compassion.
Prayer of The Day
Lord, inflame my heart with your love and make me clean. May I never cease to tell others of your love and mercy. Pray that I embody that in all I do.
What we sinners need is the faith and confidence of the leper in today’s gospel reading. He believed firmly in the power and the mercy of Jesus. “If you will, you can make me clean,” was his approach to Jesus. We too need to turn to Jesus and pray to be cured of those things that keep us from Him.