Leprosy and sin

Matthew 8:1-4

When Jesus came down from the mountain, great crowds followed him. And then a leper approached, did him homage, and said, ”Lord, if you wish, you can make me clean.” He stretched out his hand, touched him, and said, ”I will do it.  Be made clean.” His leprosy was cleansed immediately.

Then Jesus said to him, “See that you tell no one, but go show yourself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses prescribed; that will be proof for them.”

In today’s gospel reading Jesus heals the leper.  His leprosy is a metaphor for sin.  Leprosy is not curable by human means, easily contagious, and affects everyone around the leper.  It affects the leper, in Jesus’ time, by automatically making him an outcast.  It affects his family because he can no longer be in the home, can no longer provide, etc.  It affects those around because of the horribleness, the way it looks.

Our sins have the same effect.  They isolate us from society (whether we realize it or not), they affect those around us (whether we realize it or not), and they stain our sould (whether we realize it or not).

In the scene in the gospel, the leper prostrates himself before our Lord, and exclaims “If you wish to, you can make me clean.”  If we do the same thing, humble ourselves before Jesus and ask him, he will give us the same answer, “I do wish it.”   And he will touch us, and we will be clean.  We do this most obviously by going to the sacrament of reconciliation.  We present our sins before God, ask for his cleansing, then we make our gifts (our penance) to Him.

We are all sinners, we who realize it want only for Jesus to free us from sin, to bask in his beautiful love.


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