“If You are willing, You can make me clean”

The intense deformation of the face due to leprosy

In today’s gospel reading, we first see Christ making His way to preach in Galilee. We then see a story of a man with leprosy. As many of us are aware, leprosy is a terrible disease caused by a bacteria in the body. The bacterium causes numbing of the senses, skin lesions and deformation of extremities due to cartilage absorbtion. Effective treatment did not exist until the 1930’s. Leprosy still exists in parts of Africa, South America and Southeast Asia. Because of the extreme disfigurement and contagiousness, those with the disease lived in seclusion from the rest of society.

Ancient icon of Christ healing a leper

When we see any story of leprosy in scripture, we should remember how disfiguring and humiliating having the disease is. Here we have a man with this disease. He does not just come to Christ in faith that he will be cleansed, but tells Christ “if you are willing”

We are constantly reminded that we are to live by Christ’s will, not our own. Living by Christ’s will involves complete surrender to Christ. This means not only trusting that He will take care of us, but that His Will and judgement may not be equivalent to our desires and timing.

Recall the story of Job, who by permission of God underwent terrible and intense trials and tribulations from the devil in order to show him as a righteous man of the Lord. During our times of trial and tribulation we must remember the words of Paul,

No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it” 1 Cor 10:13

So we have this man, who has leprosy, ask Christ to heal him if Christ wills it. Saying so shows his complete submission to the Lord’s plan and desires. Jesus could have just as easily said no. Sometimes the answer is no from God as it is for our own spiritual edification.

Living with complete submission to God’s will means we must always live in constant attentiveness to our souls. Today might be the day that God’s will is we leave this temporal life in the church militant.