2 Kings 24:8-17
Matthew 8: 1-14
The meeting between Jesus and an anonymous leper is one of the most powerful encounters recorded in the gospels. In Luke, the meeting takes place at the very beginning of Jesus ministry. In Matthew, as we hear today, it followed a very long set of teachings to large crowds ‘up on the mountain.’
Immediately after coming down, this stranger, an outcast in his religious and social culture, approached Jesus with respect (by bowing) and with amazing confidence. He had no doubt that Jesus could cure him. The question is ‘Will Jesus want to cure him?’ Jesus responded immediately with ‘of course, I want to’ and took the risky step of touching the man.
This created a problem of the law. Having touched a leper, Jesus had himself become a leper (think of COVID and multiply the consequences). Jesus asked the man to fulfil the requirements of the law, adding, “Don’t tell anyone!”. Can you imagine being instantly cured of leprosy and not telling anyone?
After all the words on the mountain, now we see Jesus in action – compassionate and not bound by laws that prevent healing or restoration to the community. His touch (Mark describes it as an embrace) is critical for the man to know he is accepted.
May we listen to Jesus’ words and also follow his example. Let compassion drive our willingness to risk what we have to bring healing and peace to others – even if they be strangers.
Brian Traynor CP has been involved in faith formation for many years especially in the form of parish missions and through the Passionist Family Group Movement. Brian is a member of the Passionist community at Holy Cross, Templestowe.