Now there was a man full of leprosy in one of the towns where he was; and when he saw Jesus, he fell prostrate, pleaded with him, and said, “Lord, if you wish, you can make me clean.” Jesus stretched out his hand, touched him, and said, “I do will it. Be made clean.” And the leprosy left him immediately. Then he ordered him not to tell anyone, but “Go, show yourself to the priest and offer for your cleansing what Moses prescribed; that will be proof for them.” The report about him spread all the more, and great crowds assembled to listen to him and to be cured of their ailments, but he would withdraw to deserted places to pray. ( Luke 5:12-16)
Today’s Gospel is at the core of the ministry of Jesus Christ. Tender. Compassionate. Loving. Unceasing. All Encompassing.
A love as no other.
A love that He asks to be shared. By us.
But to be able to share the love of Christ with others, we must learn how to love Him. We need to seek Him out, sit at His feet and learn from Him, follow Him around the Gospels, watching what He does, listening to what He says. He wants to teach us to become fishers of men, and the first step in that is learning to love all people, learning to even touch the untouchable.
Although Jesus loves to meet people’s physical needs, He doesn’t want people to come to Him only to have those physical needs met. He wants people to come to Him so that He can meet their greatest need – that of eternal life. He wants people to seek him for spiritual healing, not just for physical healing.
We need to know that God loves us so much that He wants to lift our heavy burdens and heal our weaknesses simply because He loves us. He doesn’t do it first because it will benefit Him, rather, He does it out of love for us.
One lesson we can learn from this has to do with our own acts of love and mercy towards others. When we go out of our way to show love and compassion, are we OK with no one knowing? Too often we want to be noticed and praised.
But the nature of an act of love and compassion is such that it should be done simply out of love. In fact, doing something loving and compassionate that is not noticed by anyone helps us grow in love and compassion. It purifies our intentions and enables us to love for love’s sake.
Then we are ready to take the next step.
Christ wants us to love with a special predilection the many other types of lepers today, all those who are modern outcasts, all those on the existential peripheries.
Those whom the world considers ugly or unattractive, those whose illnesses are too long-lasting that few want to care for them; the psychological lepers, those with mental illness or mental disabilities, the spiritual or moral lepers, those who think that their sins cannot be forgiven; the economic lepers like the homeless and the emotional lepers, those who, because of their own psyche or others’ actions, feel completely alone and abandoned. These are among the ones Jesus wants us to reach out and heal through our very act of selfless love.
Henri Nouwen once wrote: “Sometimes I see humanity as a sea of people starving for affection, tenderness, care, love, acceptance, forgiveness and gentleness. Everyone seems to cry, “Please love me.”
That was the cry of this leper. That is the cry of many people we all come into contact with every day. Let us be like Jesus, and reach out and touch the untouchable. We all need to ask Jesus to help us learn to love those we would rather not love, and to love those who maybe don’t get much love.
Prayer of The Day
Lord Jesus, inflame my heart with your love and make me clean and whole in body, mind, and spirit. May I never doubt your love nor cease to tell others of your mercy and compassion.
How do you approach those who seem difficult to love, or who are shunned by others because they are deformed or have some physical or mental weakness? Do you show them kindness and offer them mercy and help as Jesus did? The Lord Jesus is always ready to show us his mercy and to free us from whatever makes us unclean, unapproachable, or unloving. As He loves us, so too are we to love,