I once had to apply for a position for which I needed a recommendation letter. I thought of how elevating it would be to be recommended by the Dean of Studies of my Faculty. But then I was aware of his usual tight schedule and how, irrespective of his goodwill and kind heart, he sometimes doesn’t meet up with such demands. Either he responds late to it or he completely forgets about it. But I needed the recommendation badly from him. In the process of my discernment, I narrated my dilemma to a friend. The friend gave me a very useful advice: “tell him how important his recommendation is for this your aspiration and how dependent you are on him in this regard.” It worked! In a sense, such an experience could be helpful in our relationship with God. The attitude of the Leper in today’s Gospel (Lk 5:12-16) reminds us of how dependent we are on God and the need to always approach him with humility and meekness.
The gospel reading of today presents us with a story of Jesus’ healing of a Leper. The conversation that transpired between the man and Jesus leading to his healing is significant for me and I would use some part of it for my reflection.
“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.”
“Lord, if you wish, you can make me clean” these words of the man with leprosy to Jesus are very weighty and could be applied to our individual life situations. In this regard I pick out three points. First is the ability to be in touch with our vulnerability and our need for healing. Our world today on the one hand, is becoming more and more stratified and individualised. On the other hand, we realise that we are full of brokenness and need God and others, for healing of our deepest brokenness. It could be sickness, or a particular weakness for which we need courage and more strength, etc. We need help for various reasons. The Leper’s acceptance of his ‘uncleanness’ encourages us to recognise our vulnerability and need for help.
The second aspect of the conversation is the man’s honest appeal for help. He knew his need for healing and realised that Jesus is the right person to restore his health. We should learn from him to go to God with our need for healing, for help in our needs, and in other human situations. We can do this all in the context of our vulnerability, sickness and brokenness. God knows our need and can grant it even without us asking, but our reaching out to Him does something in us as human beings. The call for help and for healing is an expression of faith, and of trust in God’s power to heal us. It reveals our openness for grace and healing. It is an expression of resignation to God’s power. A sign of faith and trust. The question is: Do we still trust in God’s power to heal us?
Thirdly, the words of the Leper to Jesus “Lord if you wish, you can make me clean” are prayers that each of us could adapt to own particular situations: Lord if you wish you can strengthen my faith, Lord if you wish you can heal me, Lord if you wish you can answer my prayer for a child etc. This simple prayer can reveal both our faith in God and our willingness to accept his will and our abandonment to God’s will. Only his will be done in our life. Like in the case of my faculty’s Dean of Studies, we need to always remind ourselves of our dependence of God and his will.
[Readings: 1 Jn 5:5-13; Lk 5:12-16]