Thursday, January 11, 2007

I Do Want it: Be Healed

Peace and Good! Today's Gospel is Jesus' encounter with the leper in the first chapter of Mark's gospel. It is a simple, powerful scene. There is the leper's confident plea, and Jesus' response. First of all, "I do will it." We can forget that God wants our healing, our salvation. We don't have to make God love us, but that is often how we look at our religion. God wills us to be healed; the question is: Do we want to be healed?

Even more impressive is the fact that Jesus stretched out his hand to touch that leper. This was a violation of the law as well as common sense. You just didn't touch a leper. Unless you're Jesus, God's compassion made flesh.
This all brings to my mind Francis of Assisi and his encounter with the leper outside of Assisi. Here we see his first real attempt to be Christ-like, to do what Jesus did. It was hard for him, I am sure. But he himself testifies that God worked in the whole experience: what was bitter was changed to sweetness of soul and body. Francis was faced with the question: do you want to be healed. And that day he answered, I do will it.
Finally, let's not forget the lepers, either in the Gospel or in Assisi. They were not just props, objects to show the power of Jesus or the conversion of Francis. They were real persons, loved by God. Maybe God did something powerful for those lepers in their encounters. We know he healed the man in the Gospel. But maybe the leper outside of Assisi needed someone to embrace him, to remind him that he was human, to keep him from despairing. Maybe Francis was God's instrument of the leper as much as the leper was for Francis.
God is wonderful.
God bless and keep you!

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