Daily Reflection
January 11th, 2008

Brian Kokensparger

Arts and Sciences College
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In the Gospel passage, a leper approaches Jesus and, in a bold pronouncement of faith, exclaims: “Lord, if you wish, you can make me clean.” In those days, people who were inflicted with leprosy were often shunned by the community and forced to live on the outskirts of town. It was a disease that provoked great fear among the people. A healthy person would not even consider touching a leper, due to the fear of contracting the disease. Jesus, in response to the man’s plea, stretches out His hand and touches the man, healing him.

It is easy to focus on the act of healing; indeed, the healing of a leper is a miraculous event well worth that focus. But too often we concentrate on the effect, and forget about the cause. What was the act that set the healing into motion?

I cannot help but think about Jesus’ courage in stretching out His hand to touch the leper. In doing this, Jesus was doing the unthinkable. Described as “full of leprosy,” the man must have had sores all over his body. To touch this man was to come into direct physical contact with the disease. Jesus was putting Himself at great personal risk. He was vulnerable.

Certainly He was Jesus – one could say that He had to know that the leper would be healed. And one must also assume that, if Jesus could heal others, He could heal Himself. Is that a valid assumption? Is that how Jesus’ healing power worked? Or did it have more to do with His connection with the leper? Or was it perhaps the Holy Spirit that came out from Jesus’ touch to do the healing? We certainly cannot solve the mystery of Jesus’ healing powers, but we can address Jesus’ vulnerability, that same vulnerability that we share with Him.

Jesus was human as well as divine, and as we all know from personal experience, a large part of our humanity lies in our vulnerability. Again and again, throughout the Gospel passages, Jesus’ humanity made Him vulnerable. Indeed, he succumbed to the ultimate vulnerability: Death.

Yet everyone familiar with the Christian faith knows that Jesus’ death was not the end. As the leper was miraculously healed, Jesus was miraculously raised from the dead. Perhaps Jesus’ courage was fortified by the knowledge that whatever happens here on earth, stays on earth (to borrow a phrase widely known here in the U.S.). Even when healing the sick and afflicted, He was focused upon the Kingdom of God, a place where all of the pain and suffering that happens here on earth is washed away.

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