Jesus courageously touches and instantly heals a leper, forgiving him and restoring him to full social and religious life. Every Catholic man can grow in happiness by continually seeking the Gifts of the Holy Spirit so he can grow in heroic virtue and by seeking the Gift of Knowledge so he can know when and how to bring the sick and dying to the Sacrament of Anointing.
1st Week in Ordinary Time – Thursday – Mk 1:40-45
After His baptism and the calling of the early disciples, Jesus begins to preach and heal people throughout Galilee; He has cast out demons, healed Simon Peter’s mother of a fever, and healed multitudes of the sick. Jesus now continues His work of healing by responding to a desperate man afflicted with leprosy.
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 faith in Jesus, saying, “Lord, if You will, You can make me clean.” Jesus purposefully breaks the law that forbade touching a leper, even though He would be considered 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).
While Jesus explicitly told the miraculously healed man to tell no one except the priest, perhaps to avoid overwhelming crowds and to delay confrontation with religious leaders until His “hour” had come, the man, unable to contain his gratefulness, spreads the news about the miraculous healing power of Jesus.
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 His Compassion and Courage (a part of Fortitude), as He simply touches the untouchable leper and instantly cures him, returning him to perfect health.
Build Virtue with the Gifts of the Holy Spirit
Realize: While some men become excessively frightened and anxious to the point of effeminacy when facing uncertainty, threats or disease, Jesus Christ demonstrates the importance 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; men are called to be both prudent and courageous as they seek to serve others.
Believe: Reflect upon Virtue (CCC 1803-1845) and the Gifts of the Holy Spirit (CCC 1830-1831).
Pray: Holy Spirit, give me Your Gifts of the Holy Spirit so I may have Your supernatural help to grow in the Virtues and better know, love and serve God in all my thoughts, words and deeds.
Bring the sick and dying to the Sacrament of Anointing
Realize: Jesus’ touching and healing of the leper is a prefigurement of the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick by which a priest seeks Jesus’ direct intercession to heal the sick and/or to prepare the dying for death.
Believe: Review the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick (CCC 1499-1532).
Pray: Holy Spirit, give me the Gift of Knowledge so I can know when and how to bring those who are sick or dying to receive the supernatural graces of the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick.