The Gospel according to Mark (1:40-45)
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.
Opening Prayer: Lord, I know that I need healing. I can see my flaws and infidelities. I come to you with my hands open, asking for your touch. Come to me now and help me to see how I can be fully restored in you.
Encountering Christ: Some if not all of us have felt the sting of being an outcast. Someone who is not welcome because you are (fill in the blank). I know how it feels to question one’s value when pushed away. It is a lonely place that, although can be overcome, may linger for a lifetime. Can you imagine what it must have been like for the leper in today’s Gospel. Not just pushed away but feared, destitute, hated, completely cut off from family, friends, and everything that provides meaning and purpose to life.
One of the most compelling depictions of this moment is in a scene from the series The Chosen. Having read and heard this account hundreds of times I watched with new eyes and heart. The turmoil and emotion visible in the leper, Jesus, and the apostles who witness this miracle were deeply inspiring. Yet the miracle should not be our focus or take away from what is at the heart of all of Jesus’ miracles. At the core of his mission and purpose was to restore us from the destruction of sin.
The leper came with a contrite heart asking to be healed. This is an irreplaceable component to the process of reconciliation. We must first acknowledge and be remorseful for our choice to separate ourselves from God and our faith family. We too can approach God with a humble heart full of desire to return to relationship and ask, “If you wish you can make me clean.” In every Liturgy of the Mass, in every moment of prayer and most especially in the Sacrament of Reconciliation we can receive the gift that transforms lives through the forgiveness of our sins.
What is keeping us from asking? Rest assured, as we read in Paul’s letter to the Romans in chapter 8, nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord!
Closing Prayer: Dear Lord, thank you for your patience and mercy while we work through anything that may keep us from approaching you with a humble and contrite heart. May we, like the leper, ask you to make us clean so that we may serve you and others with the love born of the sweet fruit of forgiveness.
Action for the Day: In the Liturgy of the Mass, reception of Holy Eucharist, in personal or communal prayer, or the Sacrament of Reconciliation ask God to relieve you of all that separates you from Him. Then, with the grace of God, seek out another who needs to hear the words “I do will it.”