A leper came to Jesus and begged Him, «If you so will, you can make me clean». Moved with pity, Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, «I will; be clean». The leprosy left the man at once and he was made clean. As Jesus sent the man away, he sternly warned him, «Don't tell anyone about this, but go and show yourself to the priest and for the cleansing bring the offering ordered by Moses; in this way you will make your declaration».
However, as soon as the man went out, he began spreading the news everywhere, so that Jesus could no longer openly enter any town. But even though he stayed in the rural areas, people came to him from everywhere.
If there is something that God desires very deeply for the humanity is that man never forgets the divine compassion and love and that he may not get astray from this divine mercy. The people of Israel in their difficult time remembered the Lord and the Lord did respond positively. Whenever there was a demand for conversion and for purification, God was more generous than what the people dared to demand. Though there were moments where this people failed the Lord, by simply invoking His presence without doing the necessary obligation of divine honour and glory, God did permit some failures. However, God never failed to save them from their enemies.
Today we are called to make a sincere introspection of our own faithfulness and address God with hope and certitude, just like this poor person, “if you so will.” For our surprise we will hear directly from the Lord, ‘Yes, I do.’ There is no fun in remaining in the past with all our culpabilities, we are encouraged rather to advance towards the future, hoping and tasting the divine love and mercy.
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)
«‘If you so will, you can make me clean’ (...). ‘I will; be clean’»
Fr. Xavier PAGÉS i Castañer
Today, in the first reading we read: «As the Holy Spirit says: Today, if you hear his voice ‘do not harden your hearts’» (Heb 3:7-8). And we constantly repeat it in the response to Psalm 94. In this brief quote, two points are raised: a longing and a warning. Both should never be forgotten.
During our daily prayer we long for and hope to hear our Lord's voice. But, perhaps more often than not, we fill it with our own words without allowing us time to listen to what the Good God may wish to tell us. Let us, therefore, take care of our inner silence which —by avoiding distractions and centering our attention— opens up a space to receive the affections and inspirations Our Lord, most certainly, wants to impregnate our hearts with.
A risk we must never forget is the risk that dwelling on the old sin may harden our spiritual heart. Life's hazards, at times, may make us —even without our realizing it— more leery, insensible, disheartened, forlorn…! We must beg our Lord to make us more conscientious of this inner downgrading. Our prayer offers us the opportunity to look serenely at our own life and to all circumstances surrounding it. We must meditate over the different events in the Light of the Gospel, to discover where we are in need of an authentic change.
If only we could hope for our change with the same degree of faith and confidence as the leper showed when he asked Jesus!: «He came to Jesus and begged Him, ‘If you so will, you can make me clean’» (Mk 1:40). He is the only one to make possible what for us is simply impossible. Let God act through His Grace upon us so our hearts can be purified and, meek to His influence, may every day become more in the image and semblance of Jesus' heart. He is telling us, in confidence: «I will; be clean» (Mk 1:41).