Vocation Meditation -
February 12, 2012
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 picture of pain, rejection, unworthiness and the need of being restored to health can be traced in the sight of this leper. He had struck the depth of suffering and now a glimmer of faith and hope shone in his encounter with Jesus.
For Jesus, this encounter drew him to the call of healing and restoration of this man's dignity, to his home and community to which he longed to be part of again.
With this backdrop of pain and hope, Mark the evangelist, gave us the most revealing picture of Jesus. He is a loving God among His people.
- Lepers were not allowed to come close to people. Here, Jesus did not drive away a man who had broken this law. This leper had no right to have spoken to Jesus at all. But Jesus looked beyond the horror of suffering. He came for the sick not the healthy. Jesus met the desperation of human need with an understanding compassion.
- Lepers are a picture of the living dead, shunned by all, by the stench of their wounds and their decaying body. Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, the man who was considered by all as unclean according to the law. To Jesus he was not unclean. The leper was simply a human soul in desperate need of health and compassion.
- Having restored the leper to health, Jesus sent him to do the ritual prescribed by the Mosaic law. Jesus fulfilled the human law and human righteousness without defying authority. When there was a need, Jesus respectfully submitted to the prescribed rituals.
Here, in the person of Jesus, we see his Godly compassion, power and wisdom in a unified gesture of humanity restored.
"If you choose, you can make me clean."
When I pray, what desperate needs of humanity do I ask Jesus to heal and restore?
Dear God, Each day, I encounter traces of brokenness and pain around me. I hear desperate cries for health, respect, justice, and forgiveness. You call me to heed these cries and to lift my arms in prayer to You. Give me the power of your Word and the strength of the Eucharist. Like You, make me stretch out my hand and be able to touch people's lives. Lead me to them with humility, courage and compassionate love. Amen.
For the full Gospel reading for this Sunday, visit the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops site.