40 And a leper came to him beseeching him, and kneeling said to him, "If you will, you can make me clean." 41 Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand and touched him, and said to him, "I will; be clean." 42 And immediately the leprosy left him, and he was made clean. 43 And he sternly charged him, and sent him away at once, 44 and said to him, "See that you say nothing to any one; but go, show yourself to the priest, and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded, for a proof to the people." 45 But he went out and began to talk freely about it, and to spread the news, so that Jesus could no longer openly enter a town, but was out in the country; and people came to him from every quarter.
I invite you all to contemplate the movement interior of this leper while addressing the Lord. Though his physical condition has put him outside of the society and knowing well that his presence will make the place impure, did advance courageously towards the master of all the purification. It all began from what he had heard about Jesus and his faith that if Jesus wishes that he will be purified. Though there were many lepers outside of the society, only very few had the courage to come to face Jesus. It is the Faith in Jesus that has given him this wonderful courage. All the true believers are courageous and have no fear, what so ever.
From where this man had this faith and courage? It is the way he looked at Jesus. The way he desired to look at Jesus, the way he wished to see Jesus. Jesus doesn’t change, but the way we look at Jesus change ourselves. The way he looked at Jesus has changed him. Jesus had two images, one filled with compassion and love and the other is strict and anger in his approach towards the elite of the society. The leper has chosen to see the merciful visage of Christ. Though our God is a God of judgement, before that He is the God of mercy and forgiveness. Let us choose which face of God we wish to face and which God we wish to address.
The third and important aspect is the fruit of this encounter: the purification. Jesus always desires that we be purified not only the external impurity, but importantly from the internal impurity. To be purified we should acknowledge our impurity and humbly present ourselves before God with hope and certitude of His pardon. Without acknowledgement of our impurity we can’t ask the Lord for pardon. Though the divine mercy is not conditioned by our human act or penitence, without this demand we can’t humanly feel the fruit of pardon that God accords to us freely and generously.
Daily Quote from the early church fathers:
Why did Jesus touch the leper, by Origen of Alexandria (185-254 AD)
"And why did [Jesus] touch him, since the law forbade the touching of a leper? He touched him to show that 'all things are clean to the clean' (Titus 1:15). Because the filth that is in one person does not adhere to others, nor does external uncleanness defile the clean of heart. So he touches him in his untouchability, that he might instruct us in humility; that he might teach us that we should despise no one, or abhor them, or regard them as pitiable, because of some wound of their body or some blemish for which they might be called to render an account... So, stretching forth his hand to touch, the leprosy immediately departs. The hand of the Lord is found to have touched not a leper, but a body made clean! Let us consider here, beloved, if there be anyone here that has the taint of leprosy in his soul, or the contamination of guilt in his heart? If he has, instantly adoring God, let him say: 'Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.'" (excerpt from FRAGMENTS ON MATTHEW 2.2–3)