Gospel of Mark 1:40-45
‘Of course I want to!’
A leper came to Jesus and pleaded on his knees: ‘If you want to’ he said ‘you can cure me.’ Feeling sorry for him, Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him. ‘Of course I want to!’ he said. ‘Be cured!’ And the leprosy left him at once and he was cured. Jesus immediately sent him away and sternly ordered him, ‘Mind you say nothing to anyone, but go and show yourself to the priest, and make the offering for your healing prescribed by Moses as evidence of your recovery.’ The man went away, but then started talking about it freely and telling the story everywhere, so that Jesus could no longer go openly into any town, but had to stay outside in places where nobody lived. Even so, people from all around would come to him.
This is my favourite Gospel reading. Working in physiotherapy I have learned the power of touch. I love Jesus’ response to the leper, ‘Of course I want to!’. It is an expression of love that has no hesitation. Jesus demonstrates complete acceptance and a shared desire for healing. I notice that Jesus is close. Not much social distancing here as he is only the distance of a stretched hand. Jesus is transcending any danger that he might be exposed to the disease. He deeply knows what he is about.
As I contemplate the scene this time, I am also struck by Jesus’ invitation to the leper to ‘say nothing to anyone, but show yourself to the priest…’. It seems like an invitation to join the larger mission of being part of sharing the Good News as well as instructions on how to be part of community in a very complete way by adhering to the tradition and expectations of culture.
I can relate to the excitement of the leper and getting caught up in consolation. St. Ignatius warns us about this in his ‘rules for discernment of spirits’ and he calls this getting caught up in the ‘afterglow’ of consolation. Mary Ward was well practiced in discernment and these ‘rules for discernment of spirits’. This was evident by how far she and her companions were able to spread the Gospel values.
In this Gospel I hear Jesus’ call to learn and practice discretion in bringing the Good News to others.
I wonder what you are drawn to in prayerful contemplation of this Gospel?