Blog & Pastor Letters

Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time – February 11, 2024

02-11-2024Weekly ReflectionFr. Randy Hoang

“If you wish, you can make me clean.” Lepers, as you know, have a bacterial infection that eats away at their flesh and gives them a pungent odor. At the time of Jesus, leprosy — now known under its scientific name, Hansen’s disease — was considered so contagious that those with it were quarantined for life and were cast out from their family, from their jobs, from the synagogue and from the temple. They were ostracized from all things human. Anyone who touched a leper became, under the Jewish custom, unclean.

And here, one of the most physically disgusting and repulsive human beings imaginable, a leper, came to Jesus, knelt down and begged Jesus to cure him.

The man in this Gospel, as a sign of great desperation, broke all Jewish convention to come close to Jesus. The people around Jesus most likely, out of fear of catching it, ran away from him. But what was Jesus’ reaction to this man on his knees before him?

To the leper’s plea of faith, “If you wish, you can make me clean,” Jesus, filled with compassion, stretched out his hand and touched the leper. Imagine the shrieks of onlookers. It was probably the first time a non-leper had touched him in years.

Then Jesus said the words that were the answer to the man’s prolonged prayers: “I do will it. Be made clean!” He was immediately made whole.

This Gospel ties in beautifully as we enter into the Season of Lent. During Lent, each of us is called to approach Jesus with faith, with all our sins that are eating away our souls like Hansen’s disease and say, “If you wish, you can make me clean.” And Jesus wants to say to each of us in return, “I do will it. Be made clean.” Lent is a time of cleansing. The practice of prayer helps us to overcome the leprosy of focusing on ourselves and to put God first. The practice of almsgiving helps us to conquer the leprosy of selfishness and put others ahead of ourselves. The practice of fasting helps us to triumph against the leprosy of pleasure-seeking, so that we can learn how to hunger for what God hungers.

Each of us needs to be humble enough to recognize our need and come to God so that he, moved with compassion, can stretch out his hand, touch us and heal us.