"If you wish, you can make me clean." Those words contain the essence of how we begin each Confession; we speak the words, "Bless me, Father, for I have sinned."
In biblical times, people with leprosy were shunned by society. This bacterial infection that we now call Hansen's disease was a death sentence; there was no cure. A further burden was the denial of entrance to the temple because the person was also considered ritually unclean.
The man with leprosy who approached Jesus was bold in his action. Not only did he violate the law, but he also risked a familiar rejection because of his appearance. Undaunted, in a show of reverence, he kneels before Jesus and says, "If you wish, you can make me clean." Those words convey his strong confidence in Jesus' power.
And, did you notice, he didn't ask to be cured or healed, but to made clean. His greatest wish is to be able to enter the temple and worship God with the community.
The exchange between this man and Jesus is meant to make us think — think about whether we are bold in our going to Jesus to be cleansed of our sins, or do we avoid Him.
Do we have confidence in Jesus' power to make us clean, or do we feel like giving up because of repeated falls from grace?
I imagine that every one of us knows what it feels like to be ashamed, to want to hide, even from ourselves when we break one or more of the commandments. But unlike incurable diseases, there is a remedy for our spiritual ailments. There is hope, and it is found in the same Jesus that the man with leprosy turned to in his need.
Jesus feels the same pity for us as he did for that man. Jesus wants to reach out and touch our hearts and minds to make them clean again. There is nothing that Jesus can't cleanse us from, if we sincerely approach Him like that man and seek to begin our lives in faith with a renewed purpose.
My brothers and sisters, Jesus' ability to cleanse our lives is unlimited because He is all powerful in his holiness — He is not discouraged or angered by coming into contact with we sinners; rather, Jesus, as He did with that man, wants to restore our communion with others and with God.
May we be inspired by a man who sought to be made clean and Jesus' compassion for him and each of us.
May God bless you and your families this holy day!
- Father David's inspirational homily was recorded live this morning during Mass at the Father Peyton Center. Please view the video on our Facebook page. (You don't need a Facebook account to view.)
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