Mark 1:40-45

Life has many mysteries, one of them is illness.  What is the biggest, most terrifying disease you’ve ever seen?

In the time of Jesus one of the diseases that most terrified the Jews was leprosy.  It was considered a living death. Let’s look at Jesus’ encounter with a leper.  This leper comes to Jesus begging on his knees. The leper says, “If you want to, you can make me clean”. This man is not asking for the kind of cleanliness that we achieve by a bath or shower. He is talking about spiritual cleanliness, holiness.

However, one cannot be made clean without also being made disease-free, so this man is asking to be fully restored to normal life in all dimensions. Only God can heal a leper, and only the priest (God’s appointed representative) can pronounce a leper clean.

“He stretched out his hand. and touched him”. it is not the leper who is contagious, but Jesus. The leper does not transmit his uncleanness to Jesus, but Jesus transmits his wholeness and holiness to the leper and makes him clean (medically, spiritually, and socially).

“I want to. Be made clean!”  In the beginning, God’s word created the heavens and the earth. Now Jesus demonstrates that his word also has power to accomplish what he orders. After warning the man to tell nobody nothing, Jesus orders him to show himself to the priest and to offer the proper offering. The man disobeys Jesus’ order, preaching the word so effectively that people overwhelm Jesus, seeking his help. While inconvenient for Jesus, the man was nevertheless proclaiming the good news of Jesus’ work.

~Fr. Chesco