A leper came to Jesus and begged him, “If you want to, you can make me clean.” Moved with pity, Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, “I do want to; 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 give to them your testimony.”
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.
One of the strangest paradoxes of the gospels is how Jesus conducts what could be called his PR (Public Relations) campaign. On the one hand, he certainly wants the Good News of his entering the stage of history to spread far and wide, as Matthew tells us: “He went around all of Galilee, teaching in their synagogues… His fame spread to all Syria” (Mt 4:23-24).So we would expect that Jesus would welcome any form of publicity which would make him known. Yet, on the other hand, he silences the demons who, incidentally, are the only ones who know who he really is, as he also discourages the beneficiaries of his healings (like the leper in today’s gospel reading) from making his healings known. Why is this? Isn’t propaganda, especially gospel propaganda a good thing for Jesus?
Apparently not. Here the gospels are silent. So we must guess why Jesus shunned some forms of PR pitch. Perhaps he wanted the proclamation of him to be an act of love and devotion—which the demon’s proclamation was not. Perhaps he disliked to be known primarily as a miracle worker offering spiritual fireworks. Perhaps he wanted people to come to him for deeper reasons—because they were in search of God?
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