Sixth Sunday Ordinary Time
February 11, 2018
What do you think would happen if Jesus suddenly appeared visibly at Saint Edward next Sunday? Everyone would get right in line to ask for a healing! Who among us or among those we love doesn’t have need of some cure or another?
In today’s gospel, a leper dramatically kneels down in front of Jesus and begs him for a cure. It’s not surprising to find this man pursuing Jesus. Throughout the stories of Jesus in the New Testament, it seems like everyone is looking for a healing for something or other. It is really interesting to look at what people are actually asking for; it’s almost always to be healed of some bodily illness – something on the outside—particularly things that are visible to others. Jesus, on the other hand, almost always wants to heal first what is on the inside—in the heart, that which God alone can see.
Our world tends to judge people by what we see on the outside. Just look at how many ads there are for weight loss clinics, tanning parlors, plastic surgeons, Botox injections and other such things--as if improving these things can make us happy! The most important issues to God are within our soul, that which has damaged my relationship with God or others. This is where Jesus would like to start healing us right away!
Picture yourself kneeling down in front of Jesus. What sort of healing would you seek from him if it were you in this gospel? What is the most important thing that must be healed first? In order to answer this question, we must start with a good examination of life. Do you really see yourself as you are? Many of us never get below the surface; we know about the wounds we can see, but what about the ones that are visible to God alone? These wounds have another word – not leprosy – but sin – and Jesus wants to heal this if we will only bring them to him.
Oftentimes, Jesus waits for us to ask for a healing of the area that has caused the greatest damage to our relationship with God. You may notice that people in the New Testament never seem to ask Jesus to heal them of selfishness or unkindness, their cruelty, vengeance, spite, impurity, stinginess, a complaining heart or other such things, and yet these are the real leprosy in our lives. They may be mostly unseen, but left untreated in the heart, they corrode like battery acid.
Before Lent begins, perhaps we should pray for the grace of a deep self-examination of conscience; then we shall know what sort of healing the Lord wishes to work with us on during Lent. It may not be the first thing that comes to mind.