“Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.” (Matthew 8:2).
While today’s first reading contains a very sad tale of King’s Nebuchadnezzar’s capture of Jerusalem, our Gospel passage presents us with a comforting story of the mercy and love of God in the healing of the leper. This seeming contradiction is beautifully summed up by the leper’s plea: “If you will (if you want to), you can make me clean.”
If God wanted to, He would have prevented the army of Babylonians just as He fought for the land of Judah during the time of King Hezekiah who refusing to surrender to King Sennacherib of Assyria went down on his knees to pray. In just one night, one hundred and eighty-five thousand men fell. Meanwhile, King Zedekiah having no trust in God or in the power of prayers tried to escape under the cover of darkness with all his fighting men in whom he trusted.
This story in our first reading is recorded to serve as a reminder to us of the need to place all our trust in God. Our Psalmist sings: “Let my tongue cleave to my mouth if I remember you not.” The problem of the Israelites back then is still a typical human problem today; when all is going well for us, we forget God; we assume we are in control, we begin to seek vainglory and boast as if our achievements are based on our personal effort. Whenever we forget God and start trusting in ourselves (our connections, riches, security mechanisms etc.), God shows us that we are just dust.
The leper clearly understand his total dependency on God but at the same time, he knew that God’s will was superior to his personal desires. He must have been listening when Jesus was teaching the prayer: “your will be done on earth as it is heaven.” Going through the entire Gospels, we find this pattern: first the Word, then the miracles. When we listen to the Word of God and allow it to permeate our spirit, we catapult ourselves to the realm of miracles.
Jesus was so impressed by this leper’s confession of faith that He reached out to touch him. “Of course, I want to! Be cured!” It was a taboo to touch a leper but by so doing, Jesus was literally taking his leprosy upon Himself so that the leper might receive life. In reality, what Jesus did for this leper is what He does for all humanity. “He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that made us whole, and with his stripes, we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:5).
Let us Pray: Lord Jesus, I know I am a sinner and unworthy of you, please touch me today, touch me from the depths of my spirit and let your healing power flow. Amen. Bible Study: 2 Kings 25:1-12, Psalm 136 & Matthew 8:1-4).