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Jesus and the man with leprosy




Gospel reading: Lk 5:12-16


IT happened that there was a man full of leprosy in one of the towns where Jesus was; and when he saw Jesus, he fell pros­trate, pleaded with him, and said, “Lord, if you wish, you can make me clean.” Jesus stretched out his hand, touched him, and said, “I do will it. Be made clean.” And the leprosy left him immedi­ately. Then he ordered him not to tell anyone, but, “Go, show yourself to the priest and offer for your cleansing what Moses prescribed; that will be proof for them.” The report about him spread all the more, and great crowds assembled to listen to him and to be cured of their ail­ments, but he would withdraw to deserted places to pray.



In Jesus’ time, leprosy is a dreaded disease, and the lep­ers are considered outcasts and regarded as “living dead” (cf Lv 13:45-46). Any contact with them is deemed contamination and uncleanness. Behind the leper’s plea, “Lord, if you wish, you can make me clean,” Jesus understands the pain of isolation and shame of one who has been segregated from the community. By curing him, Jesus restores him to the community of the living. After the healing, the man has to present himself to the priest in order to get ritual clearance in compliance with the law (cf Lv 14:2-9).

Luke presents Jesus as minis­tering to the marginalized and the outcasts. Jesus becomes the bridge that spans the gap be­tween the clean and the unclean, between saints and sinners. By his incarnation, Jesus becomes one of us except sin. As Paul puts it, “Though he was in the form of God, [he] did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross” (Phil 2:6-8).

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