February 11, 2018 Click on the left end of the black bar to play/pause
February 11, 2018
Fr. George Smiga
Jesus heals a leper in today’s gospel, but the important part of this story is what the leper says to Jesus. Now, this man was clearly a man of faith. He believed that Jesus could heal him. What he was not sure of was whether Jesus was willing to do so. He comes up to Jesus and says, “If you wish, you can make me clean.” What a remarkable statement: “If you wish, you can make me clean.” It is a mixture of both faith that Jesus has the power to cure him and doubt whether Jesus is willing to do so. Of course, there is no doubt with Jesus. He stretches out his hand and says, “I do will it. Be made clean,” and the leprosy leaves him. The text says that after the leper’s request, Jesus is moved with pity. We often imagine that Jesus is moved in this way because of the horrible disease of leprosy. But, we might also see that Jesus’ emotion results from a sadness that this man would ever doubt that Jesus would cure him.
What this story tells us is that there may be times in our lives when we doubt whether God is willing to help us, but that there is no doubt with God. Always and everywhere, God intends to make us whole.
Now we, like the leper, are people of faith. But if we find ourselves caught in an abusive relationship from which we cannot escape, if we are unable to move past grief over someone we have lost in death, when we feel ourselves losing energy and abilities because of advancing age, we can begin to think, “Maybe God does not really wish to help me.” If we’ve tried everything we can to try to resolve some problem in our family, if we are exhausted because someone is bullying us at school, if we make a disastrous mistake because of selfishness and hurt others deeply, we can start to believe that we are not worthy of God’s love and the things that are taking place in our life are there because God does not really care about what happens to us. Against all these fears and doubts that God has forgotten us today’s gospel insists that God always intends to heal us.
Now, the advantage of the leper in today’s gospel is that his insight into God’s intention and his healing take place in the same moment. In our lives, healing can often take more time. The problems of our life are complex. Resolving them often demands the willingness to change an attitude, an openness to leave old habits behind, the courage to try new options, and almost always the help of others. So God’s plan to heal us can take months, perhaps even years. But what today’s gospel tells us is that we should never doubt that God intends to heal us. We should never question that God desires to make us whole.
When it comes to God’s power being used for our benefit, there is never an “if you wish,” but always “I do will it, be made clean.” So let us hold then to that promise, waiting for our healing to come, so that when it does, we too, like the man in the gospel, can go out and proclaim to others all that God has done for us.