The Leper~A Self Reflection
"If thou wilt, thou can make me clean."
~ Mark 1: 40
Hearing and rereading today's Gospel passage about the leper who approached Jesus reminds me of myself before my return to Christ and his Church.
There is physical leprosy, but there is also spiritual leprosy. In the physical form, a virus infects the body and parts begin to die and fall off. People with this disease are usually outcasts sent far away into isolation so as not to infect anyone else. In spiritual leprosy, sin infects the soul and it begins to die. Through sin the soul isolates itself from God's grace and the Church. The cure for the spiritual type (and probably to some extent the physical type as well) is faith in Jesus Christ.
Six years ago, after allowing my soul to die over the course of many years from countless sins- some very serious, I found my way back home. This did not come without God's grace and some human help as well. I found the courage to approach Jesus in faith and with as much humility as I could muster and asked him for healing. He responded to me immediately as he did the leper in today's Gospel. This man was able to approach Jesus in his humanity while he walked this earth. I was able to approach him through his priest in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. I was made clean; our Lord willed it.
Our modern society has lost its sense of sin and the damage it does to us. Even at times our own parish priests don't seem to preach on it for fear of emptying the pews. We need to hear it. I needed to hear it. Not that I or any of us want to; it's never pretty. Speaking for myself, I needed to hear that I was sick and face what got me that way.
The leper knew he was unclean and he didn't want to be isolated anymore. It must have taken a lot of courage, not to mention faith, for him to approach Jesus. He did so with faith and humility; "if thou wilt it..." That simple phrase is an act of faith and humility. He didn't demand that Jesus heal him and he didn't say, "if you can". He believed that if our Lord willed it, he would be healed.
After much self-examination, I realized I was unclean and like the leper, I didn't want to be isolated anymore- not from God's grace or from his Church. After I approached Jesus through his priest in confession, I did what the leper did- I went and told everyone! Although I really didn't have to; most people could see my healing in how I began to live my life from that point on.
Every now and then the leprosy tries to return, but I do my best not to let it. I know where to find my "Divine Primary Care Physician". (He's a lot easier to find than any in my earthly health plan!) The words of absolution are probably the sweetest and most beautiful words we can hear.
The moral of the story? We need to form our consciences so that we know when we are sick through sin. Then we need to approach the Divine Physician in the sacraments. Making a good confession will make us clean and receiving our Lord in the Eucharist will give us the strength to stay that way.
If you are reading this and are in need of a "spiritual bath", don't be afraid to approach Jesus. As long as you do so with humility and faith, he is there waiting to stretch out his hand to give you his healing grace just as he did for the leper- just as he did for me.