Now it happened that Jesus was in one of the towns when suddenly a man appeared, covered with a skin-disease. Seeing Jesus he fell on his face and implored him saying, ‘Sir, if you are willing you can cleanse me.’ He stretched out his hand, and touched him saying, ‘I am willing. Be cleansed.’ At once the skin-disease left him. He ordered him to tell no one, ‘But go and show yourself to the priest and make the offering for your cleansing just as Moses prescribed, as evidence to them. ‘But the news of him kept spreading, and large crowds would gather to hear him and to have their illnesses cured, but he would go off to some deserted place and pray.
Let us take a closer look at three elements of today’s reading:
Firstly, it is the statement that the Lord wants to heal! He wants it! His intention is to help people, not to make their yoke heavier.
We should avoid two misconceptions about the image of God:
If the element of justice or to carry the cross comes too much to the fore, this burdens the person, because it is easy to forget the word of the Lord: “Come to me, you who suffer heavy burdens, I will give you rest” (Mt 11,28).
The other danger is that too little emphasis is placed on the seriousness of discipleship and the responsibility that flows from it, thus separating the mercy of God from justice. In this way the challenge of faith would be weakened and it would acquire a slightly sweet taste!
Let us hold on to a strong faith, that always has the goodness of God before the eyes, which carries us even when the circumstances are difficult and we cannot perceive the presence of God as clearly as it reveals to us when our prayers have been answered, for example during a healing!
A second element is that a special healing should carry the character of publicity, because it is not only about the welfare of the healed or liberated person, but also about the fact that the action of God is witnessed! People should find faith in the living and good God, because only He gives them eternal salvation. Physical healing, apart from its own goodness, can serve this goal!
A third element is the behaviour of the Lord in the face of the great multitude of people who seek help from Him! He retires to a lonely place to pray!
This is an important message for those who are in apostolic ministry. No matter how great the need is and how many people ask for our presence: there must be times of retreat, times when the relationship with God is intimately cultivated, renewed and deepened!
We all stand in the mission of God and are to bear witness to it! If we do not pay attention to this contemplation of God, there is the danger that we will no longer be supported by the Lord in the same way and be transparent to him. After all, it is not only our actions that are at stake, but precisely the “being before God” that is fulfilled by Him is what is able to appeal to people in their depths! The intimate attachment to the giver of all gifts and thus to the author of all good things fills our heart with gratitude and prevents us from placing ourselves too much in the centre of attention!