Vocation Meditation -
February 15, 2009
Used with permission from ChristianComputerArt.Com
A man with leprosy came to Jesus begging him, and kneeling said to Jesus, "If you choose, you can make me clean." Moved with pity, Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, and said to him, "I do choose. Be made clean!" Immediately the leprosy left him, and he was made clean.
After sternly warning him, Jesus sent him away at once, saying to him, "See that you say nothing to anyone; but go, show yourself to the priest, and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded, as a testimony to them."
But the man went out and began to proclaim it freely, and to spread the word, so that Jesus could no longer go into a town openly, but stayed out in the country; and people came to Jesus from every quarter.
The fate of lepers was truly hard. In Jesus' time, there was no disease regarded with more terror and pity than leprosy. Lepers were human beings reduced to so hideous a situation, they were a wreck! They had not only to bear the physical pain of their disease, they had to bear the mental anguish and the heartbreak of being completely banished from human society and were totally shunned. The law imposed on them complete distance. If ever a leper was cured, though almost impossible, they had to undergo a complicated ceremony of restoration according to the Law of Moses. Such was their fate that Jesus had them in mind when He sent out the Twelve for their mission. He specifically commanded them, 'Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers.'
Before this particular leper, Jesus gave one of the most revealing pictures of Him. He did not drive away a man who had broken the law. He met his desperation of human need with an immediate and understanding compassion. A word of healing would have sufficed for him. But Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him! He touched the man who was considered unclean by everyone. To God's eyes he was not unclean. He was simply a human soul in desperate need of healing. When asked, Jesus chose to make him clean.
Having done so, Jesus sent him to fulfill the prescribed ritual. Jesus both fulfilled the human law and gave way to human righteousness. He did not defy the normal rituals but, when need be, submitted to them.
In this miracle, we see Jesus' compassion, power and wisdom all at work together in Him.
Jesus submits to human laws as He went about doing good.
Do I encourage those in my ministry to submit themselves to rightful authorities and valid practices?
Your compassion bids me to stretch out my hand to answer a desperate need. Your power gives me the grace not to shun anyone. Your wisdom teaches me to do good while respecting structures and laws that guide our daily lives. Let all these empower me to follow you unconditionally. Amen.
For the full Gospel reading for this Sunday, visit the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops site.