One day, in another town, a man came to Jesus covered with leprosy. On seeing Jesus, the man bowed down to the ground, and said, “Lord, if you want to, you can make me clean.”
Stretching out his hand, Jesus touched the man and said, “Yes, I want to. Be clean.” In an instant, the leprosy left him. Then Jesus instructed him, “Tell this to no one. But go, and show yourself to the priest. Make an offering for your healing, as Moses prescribed; that will serve as evidence for them.”
But the news about Jesus spread all the more; and large crowds came to him, to listen and to be healed of their sickness. As for Jesus, he would often withdraw to solitary places and pray.
There is something infinitely touching in today’s gospel scene. And it is the tone of the leper’s request for healing. “Lord, if you want to, you can make me clean.” We do not have here the usual shouts for attention, the frenzied requests accompanied with theatrical bowings and scrapings, the great shows of devotion (artificial or real). What we have is a surprisingly low-keyed request. In fact, it hardly sounds like a request at all. “If you want…” It is difficult to imagine a more restrained approach, a more low-pitched attitude.
One senses that the leper has reached, so to speak, a state of “indifference” in reference to his leprosy. It might be that he lived with it for so long that, eventually, he has learned to find God in it—so much so that, now, he is not sure if a cure would be so spiritually beneficial after all. So he lets Jesus decide the issue. “If you want…” Obviously he trusts Jesus’ decision unreservedly. And Jesus is obviously won over by this extraordinary trust.
Would we approach Jesus in like manner if we suffered, say, from cancer? Would we let him decide the outcome with a quiet heart?
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