6th Sunday in Ordinary Time
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 forward 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 priests, 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 him would come to him.
Introductory Prayer: Lord Jesus, I know that you came in order to cure us of our spiritual leprosy, which is sin. I believe in your power to forgive sin and that with your grace I can grow in a life of virtue, imitating you. I know that you want to cleanse and cure me, and I trust in you, knowing that your mercy will never fail. I love you for your fidelity in spite of my many falls. Come to me, I need your grace; you are the source of life and goodness.
1. "If You Want to You Can Cure Me." The leper came to Jesus on his knees; he had everything to ask for and nothing to give except his trust. He had seen or heard what Jesus had done to others, he knew Jesus’ power, and he drew his own conclusion, not a theoretical but a practical one. He went to Jesus himself, and asked for what he needed.
In one and the same gesture he opened to Jesus both his need and his faith/trust. It was easy for the leper to experience repugnance at his disease and to desire health; it can be much more difficult for us to experience repugnance at sin. Only the light of God’s grace and looking at what sin did to Christ on the Cross can we open our souls to the truth about it, look at its presence in ourselves, and come to Christ on our knees for healing and saying if you want you can cure me. So, it is on our knees too that we discover our need and open it to Christ. Ask yourself, what is it that I need and cannot do myself? If it is something good we should bring it to Christ and ask him with the same directness and trust as the leper.
2. "Of Course I Want to! Be Cured!" Jesus doesn’t hesitate for a second. Of course he wants to do what he came to earth to do! The door of his mercy is always open. This is the same Jesus who awaits us in the sacrament of pardon. How natural it is to think that our sins are going to cause repugnance in him, shock at seeing our state, and therefore rejection. How easy and natural it is to think that because of our weakness God cannot work with us and on us. We forget, and the enemy of our souls tries to make it stay that way, that God knows our need even before we ask him for it. He came because we need a Savior, because on our own we are powerless to cure ourselves. He is anxiously waiting to see us approach him. The greatest pleasure we can give him is giving him an opportunity to cleanse us. In Confession Christ is present in the person of the priest. The priest too has give up much so as to become Christ’s instrument of pardon. When you confess your sins to Christ in the person of a priest, it is also a great joy that you bring him, when he sees his own sacrifice being rewarded with the opportunity to take away your sins and give you God’s grace. You “make his day” by giving him the opportunity to do what he has sacrificed so much to be able to do, by allowing him to live and be the instrument of God’s love and pardon.
3. "Go and Show Yourself to the Priest, and Make the Offering for Your Healing Prescribed [...]." Sacramental confession is the door to life anew in grace. Christ's formula is not a difficult one. He doesn't demand extraordinary acts in reparation; but he does ask us to be docile. When Naamon, commander of the army of the King of Syria, protested against the simplicity of the act Elisha prescribed to cure him of his leprosy, his servant intervened: "...if the prophet commanded you to do something great, would you not have done it? How much rather, then, when he says to you, 'Wash and be clean'?" Conversion is about making our will one with God’s, and, in a very particular way we show this every time we accuse ourselves of our faults sacramentally before a priest, with a firm intention to sin no more and make due reparation for our shortcomings. Confession helps us go from being sorry for our sins and wanting to be free of them because of the damage they do to us, to being sorry for them because of their true horror: the way they offend God and destroy his life in us.
Conversation: Talk with Jesus about his mercy. Reflect on how this mercy is so extraordinary because he not only heals us of something that is bad for us but forgives us the tremendous offence we do him by sinning. Let us look at the extreme manifestation of that mercy: Christ nailed to the Cross so that we would not have to die. Spend some time thanking Jesus for all the times he has washed you clean of your sins.
1. Do I speak to Christ sincerely and clearly about my needs?
2. When I go to Confession, do I really want to change my behavior?
3. What is it about my sins that makes me sorry for them?