1 John 5:5-13; Psalm 147:12-15, 19-20; Luke 5:12-16
If you wish, you can make me clean. (Luke 5:12)
Leprosy is an infectious disease that causes severe physical impairment and disfigurement. In 1873 a Norwegian doctor, Gerhard Hansen, first identified the bacterium that causes leprosy. Today this illness—now known as Hansen’s disease—can be cured with a medical “cocktail” that stops the disease in its tracks.
That’s good news for those who suffer from Hansen’s disease today. But in Jesus’ day, leprosy was incurable—and many other skin diseases were lumped in with this scourge and aroused a great amount of fear. And because those with leprosy were so contagious, people with any fearful skin disorder were sent to a leper colony, where they would live out their days isolated from the rest of society.
No wonder many of the early Church Fathers compared our fallen, sinful state to leprosy! They saw the ravaging disease as an image of sin. But there was one difference. While leprosy was usually considered a death sentence, sin was not. There was real hope for healing—and even restoration—in the Sacrament of Confession.
In his commentary to today’s Gospel story, for example, St. Bede wrote, “This man prostrated himself on the ground, as a sign of humility and shame, to teach each of us to be ashamed of the stains of this life… . The leper showed his wound and begged for healing. If you will, he says, you can make me clean: that is, he recognized that the Lord had the power to cure him.”
Jesus does have the power to heal us of our sin. He is always ready to forgive! So don’t let guilt or shame keep you from him. Like the fellow in today’s Gospel, take the step of humbling yourself and confessing your need for healing. But at the same time, make sure you imitate his great confidence in Jesus: “If you wish, you can make me clean” (Luke 5:12). There is no doubt in this man’s mind. He knows that Jesus can restore him to health.
So don’t hesitate to pour out your heart in Confession. Turn to the Lord, who has the power to make you clean. Kneel before him, and let him say the same words he said to this man centuries ago: “I do will it. Be made clean” (Luke 5:13)!
“All praise to you, Jesus! You are the healer of my soul.”~WAU