The Courageous Leper and the Divine Healer

When Jesus came down from the mountain, great crowds followed him.
And then a leper approached, did him homage, and said,
“Lord, if you wish, you can make me clean.”
He stretched out his hand, touched him, and said,
“I will do it. Be made clean.”
His leprosy was cleansed immediately.

Matthew 18:1-3

The courageous leper said, “Lord, if you wish, you can make me clean.” Our Lord did wish for him to be clean, as he wishes for us all to be clean—inside and out. The leper was courageous because he was not content to settle for the way things were. The leper, whether he realized it or not, turned to the only Healer who could cleanse more than just the lesions on his skin. For us it is no different. The Healer wills our cleanliness. Rather than dealing with the superficialities of external appearance, let us consider the internal dispositions which really make a person ugly—or beautiful.

All of us have a certain beauty because we were made by God. That beauty grew incomparably greater when we received the gift of God’s grace and friendship in the Sacrament of Baptism. After Baptism we increase our beauty by good works when we love with God’s own love. When our works are not enlivened by God’s love, we mar the beauty of our soul with sin. This is particularly troubling (and disfiguring) because sin wants to become a sort of addiction. A person can very easily become accustomed to falling into these patterns of repeated vice. Sooner or later the person becomes attached to these sins (or trapped by them). It is very sad when we see a person who clings to vice in the same way that we all should cling to holiness. This sort of leprosy is much more infectious and harmful than the leprosy which is only skin deep.

We should always have great hope because Our Blessed Lord always says, “I will do it. Be made clean.” Whatever mess we make of our soul, the Divine Healer is always ready to stretch out his hand and touch us. The Sacrament of Reconciliation is the location of this contact with the Lord. We should not just go there when we are mortally ill, in extremis–we should run the Doctor at the first sign of illness! It is easier to uproot a vine when it is small, rather than when it has entangled the entire house. The same is even truer of vice.

The leper’s example gives us confidence that we can always go to the Lord Jesus for healing. Once healed, we are continually strengthened by God’s many interventions of grace, especially when we receive Holy Communion at Mass. May we often say courageously, “Lord, if you wish, you can make me clean” so that we can often hear, “I will do it. Be made clean.”

3 Comment

  1. Matt says: Reply

    Thank you for the reflection & insight. I’d like to see more opportunities for the sacrament of Reconciliation. It is an important sacrament (which I often neglect), but many parishes offer it for only 1/2 hour on Saturdays and by appointment. Why is that?

    1. Father Gerald Souza says: Reply

      I agree there need to be more opportunities for Reconciliation. The priests of Billerica working on a plan to make make more times available. From what I understand (and I may be mistaken in this), Saturday was the usual time for confessions when there was no Vigil Mass on Saturday evenings. My personal opinion is that this custom needs to be updated. The St. Anthony Shrine in Boston and the St. Joseph the Worker Shrine in Lowell do a great job of offering plentiful (and convenient) times. I have heard it said the number of confessions is the best way to measure the health of a parish. Perhaps if priests preached more on the necessity of celebrating this Sacrament, then more times would be needed to be added on account of necessity.

      Contrary to conventional wisdom, fewer confessions don’t mean that people sin less. Fewer confessions are a sign of something much worse.

      1. Matt says: Reply

        So true! Keep preaching on this! I know I need the constant bug in my ear.

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