Friday of the Twelfth Week in Ordinary Time

The leper comes to Jesus and says, “Lord, if you wish, you can make me clean.”

The way that the ancient world dealt with leprosy was to basically quarantine them.  They were isolated from the rest of society.  For a leper to come to the great crowds following Jesus and to approach Jesus, he would have almost certainly had to pick his way through those great crowds.  Such a thing was just not done.  The leper did so at great risk to himself.  If he fully understood epidemiology (admittedly unlikely), he would have understood that he did so at great risk to others. 

But still, he came to Jesus.

And Jesus did not reject him. 

We see in the words of the leper an interesting Greek word.  The leper asks Jesus to make him clean.  The Greek word used is katharisai.  Yes, this is the same word from which we get “catharsis.”  One dictionary definition for our word “catharsis” is “a purification or purgation that brings about spiritual renewal or release from tension.”  If we consider that dimension of what the leper is requesting (and what Jesus did), we can see this cleansing as more than a physical healing.  It is a deep renewal, spiritually even, through the release of what was burdening him.  He is freed from what had held him bound.

God is a God of mercy.  Mercy more than justice.  If we request that mercy.  God cleanses us if we request that.  But we must come forward first.  We must approach Jesus.  Perhaps when it is inconvenient.  Perhaps when we must set aside our pride in doing so. 

We might feel that something cannot be forgiven.  That something cannot be brought to the light.  That is not true.  One reason is that God sees even into our darkness.  The other is that the only way that God will not forgive is if we refuse to ask for that forgiveness.

Is there some burden that is weighing us down?  Is there some secret that has been kept hidden?  Is there some sin that needs to be confessed?  In what way do we need to be made clean?  In what way do we need catharsis?