Christ cleansing a leper by Jean-Marie Melchior Doze, 1864.
On this icy cold, blustery day, as I spent the morning hour contemplating our mass readings and praying the rosary, the thought came to me how powerful is the Word of God. In Mark 1:40-45, we see how our Lord immediately grants a begging leper healing with a word and touch. Jesus warns the healed leper not to tell anyone and to go to the priests, and make an offering as Moses prescribed. Chapter 14 of Leviticus details the elaborate ritual for purification; after reading through it, a modern day reader might understand any reluctance the leper had in performing the detailed ritual. In the end, we don’t really know what motivated the leper to begin talking about the healing instead of following the advice of Jesus. I can only imagine the joy the person felt at being made clean, free of leprosy and all the social isolation it invoked. Yet by spreading the good news of his healing, the man made it quite difficult for Jesus to continue his own healing ministry, inadvertently increasing our Lord’s isolation from the towns.
This gave me to ponder how we can lose sight of the Lord when we don’t follow his teachings; how we push him out of the very public places of our life when we don’t follow his teachings and precepts. He becomes a peripheral entity, as we place priority on our own thoughts, desires and actions, and so bringing less and less of the Lord into the world. Then, when we are suddenly overcome with our own leperous condition, we end up seeking Him again for the healing only he can give. Often our search can be a look outside of ourselves for the healing that really can take place within. We forget that the Lord is Emanuel, God with us! So how do we keep this "God with us", with us?
Today’s Luminous mysteries give us a way to the Lord….and it begins with listening to the Lord. Isn’t it amazing the luminous mysteries all involve a progressive call to listen to the Lord. In the first mystery as Jesus is baptized, God the Father calls out: “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased!” Yes, we would want to listen to the One most pleasing and closest to God! In the next mystery, Wedding of Cana (John 2:1-12), Mary encourages the servants (and us!) to listen to the Son, the One most pleasing to God the Father. Then in the third mystery, Sermon on the Mount (Matthew Chapters 5-7), we hear from the Son all that He teaches as the new Moses and law giver of God. In a grand theophany of God, the fourth mystery confirms that God wants us to listen to his Son, during the Transfiguration mystery. (Mark 9:2-8). The last mystery involves the institution of the Eucharist (Matthew 26: 20-18), the ultimate listening post where we meet and listen to God’s still small voice, as we silently adore Him in the veiled but real presence in the Host. We can find Him in adoration or within the Mass… either way He is there to heal and cleanse us.
As we start back to Ordinary time, we get these little lessons in living the faith: recognize the Lord Jesus as our Savior and healer, listen to His words and heed His commands, which you find in the Holy Scriptures, knowing that God the Father fully approves! Continue to seek Him in the Eucharist, the source and summit of our catholic faith, where that still, small voice speaks words of life, love and healing for our broken world!
Ps 43:3-4, 5b
Send your light and fidelity,
that they may be my guide
Let them bring me to your holy mountain,
to the place of your dwelling,
that I may come to the altar of God,
to God, my joy, my delight.
Then I will praise you with the harp,
O God, my God…
Wait for God, for I shall praise again,
my savior and my God.