The Holy Gospel according to Matthew (8:1-4)
When Jesus came down from the mountain, great crowds followed him.
And then a leper approached, did him homage, and said,“Lord, if you wish, you can make me clean.” He stretched out his hand, touched him, and said, “I will do it. Be made clean.” His leprosy was cleansed immediately. Then Jesus said to him, “See that you tell no one, but go show yourself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses prescribed; that will be proof for them.”
Reflection: Today’s short Gospel, only four verses, records the first of Jesus’ miracles in Matthew’s Gospel, the healing of a leper. The Gospel also tells us much about the leper and Our Lord, Jesus. The leper was an outcast, contagious and shunned, who had to keep socially distant from others. Lepers were banned to a life outside the camp and were not allowed to worship in the temple. The leper could not touch or exchange greetings with others. The leper was breaking the law in approaching Jesus. But the leper had great faith in Jesus. The leper then tells Jesus, “Lord, if you wish, you can make me clean.” When the leper’s faith broke through legal limitations, Jesus not only spoke with him but touched him. Jesus saw the leper’s faith and told him, “I will do it. Be made clean.” Jesus was also going against the law when he reached out and touched the leper. Much of the life and work of Jesus was spent with the ill and the disabled, and often with people like this leper who nobody wanted. In the mind and heart of Jesus, nobody is unwanted. Jesus cannot bear to see us isolated from him. Throughout our lives, Jesus wants us to be with him, offering us the gift of love and healing, asking only love and the effort to love in return. All of us are sinners, loved sinners, in need of cleansing. We all need healing from sickness, anxiety, resentment, wounded relationships, and sinful habits. We cannot believe that there is a part of our life that Jesus is unwilling to touch and heal us. Jesus is willing to bring his healing touch to every part of our lives. All we need to do is ask him, “Lord, if you wish, you can make me clean.”
Action of the day: We are all in need of healing. Today, take some time in prayer and examine our hearts and minds to see those areas that need healing. During this prayer, approach Jesus in faith and tell him, “Lord, if you wish, you can make me clean.” Jesus will tell us, “I will do it. Be made clean.” For Catholic Christians, we know Jesus forgives us our sins and makes us clean in the sacrament of Confession. If you have know gone to Confession, make time to go and be made clean.