Jesus miraculously heals a leper physically and spiritually. Every Catholic man can grow in happiness by seeking the Gift of Piety from the Holy Spirit so he can joyfully submit to the Lord Jesus Christ and by seeking all the Gifts of the Holy Spirit so he can better imitate the manly virtue of Jesus.
12th Week in Ordinary Time – Friday – Mt 8:1-4
Having completed His proclamation of the New Covenant from a mountaintop in the Sermon on the Mount (Mt 5-7), Jesus descends down the mountain and performs 10 astounding miracles, vanquishing sin, disease, demons, and even death (Mt 8:1-9:38). Everywhere Jesus goes, huge crowds are impressed and follow Him, and react in growing amazement at His knowledge and power which He effortlessly uses to preach and heal.
Jesus first chooses to heal a man with leprosy, an impossible illness to heal at that time. Leprosy is a devastating illness (though largely curable today) that ravages the bodies of lepers with sores and disfiguration. Worse, since leprosy made a man “unclean” by Jewish law (Lev 13-14) and was contagious, lepers were outcasts who were forced to live outside of cities, shut out of the religious and social life of Israel. Despite being an outcast, the man with leprosy boldly breaks through the crowd, kneels before Jesus, and professes an absolute faith that Jesus can heal him, saying, “Lord, if You will, You can make me clean.” Jesus, who perfectly knew all Jewish purity laws, purposefully breaks a law that forbade a healthy person to touch a leper because it would make the healthy person ritually “unclean.” Completely unafraid of being personally exposed to the contagion of leprosy, Jesus touches the man, and simply and powerfully says, “I will. Be cleaned.” It is a stupendous, unprecedented miracle; the leper is healed.
In a prefigurement of how the Sacrament of Penance draws the sinner back into full communion with the Body of Christ, Jesus invites the healed man back into full communion, telling him to follow the prescribed Jewish laws of cleansing, as overseen by a Jewish priest (Lev 14).
Be awed by Jesus Christ
Though curable today, leprosy remains a devastating disease causing horrible scaly skin legions, damage to nerves, eyes, and muscles; often, nerve damage leads to loss of fingers and toes. Marvel at the Divine Power of Jesus and of His Compassion and Courage (a part of Fortitude) as He simply touches the untouchable leper and instantly cures him, returning him to perfect health.
Joyfully submit to your Lord Jesus Christ
Realize: The leper is the first to call Jesus, “Lord”, in Matthew’s Gospel, a prophecy and profound reflection upon Jesus’ true identity as God and the leper’s realization of his own smallness in the presence of the Divine; every Catholic man can discover the peace and joy of rejecting the false promises of independence by trusting and becoming completely dependent upon the saving grace and power of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Believe: Reflect upon Jesus’ Divine Identity as Lord (CCC 446-451).
Pray: Holy Spirit, give me the Gift of Piety so I always remember that I am a “slave” who is completely dependent on my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and I always revere and give honor and glory to Jesus, in both my private and public life.
Imitate the manly virtue of Jesus
Realize: Jesus Christ is the perfection and model of manly virtue (from the Latin, vir, meaning “man” or “hero”), Courageously (a part of Fortitude) touching the leper despite Jewish ritual prohibitions and the risk of contagion; Jesus has given the Gifts of the Holy Spirit to every Catholic man to help him grow in virtue.
Believe: Reflect upon Virtue (CCC 1803-1845).
Pray: Jesus, Perfection of Virtue, help me receive the Gifts of the Holy Spirit to help me grow in virtue and inspire me to strive to imitate Your manly and heroic virtue in all my thoughts, words and deeds in my daily life.