Introduction: Luke in 5:12-16, portraits Jesus healing a leper. Leprosy was considered morally speaking “unclean”, and therefore had to be alienated from his family, society and the community of religious practices. In other words, he was totally isolated from human or animal contact to avoid infecting or making others unclean. Jesus’ compassion and care for the sick brings not only healing to the leper but brings him back to re-establish his relationship with his family, with the community of worship and with God.
1.Read: read the text of Luke 5:12-16 slowly and listen attentively with the ‘ear of your heart’. What word, sentence or phrase stands out for you?
2.Reflect: read the text again and pay attention of what touches you; why is it meaningful for you. What thought or reflection comes to you.
3.Respond: read the text again but this time respond spontaneously to the word of God. In other words, make a dialogue with God what comes from within you. What gift does this text lead you to ask for from the Lord?
4.Stay with the Word: read the text a final time and rest in the word. Allow God to speak to you in deep silence. Do not say anything just listen to God’s words. What is He saying?
5.Take now the word, sentence, or phase, into your daily life/activity; allow it to become part of you. Always listen to it, reflect on it, pray over it and rest on it as time allows during the day. Then allow the Word leads you to action.
Conclude your ‘Lectio Divina’ with the ‘Our Father’…
Reflection: The sickness of leprosy already appears in the Old Testament in the book of Leviticus chapter 13, where it describes the types of Leprosy and its implications for the infected person in particular and for society as a whole; it says nothing about the therapy or methods of cure.
A leper was regarded as an outcast and was rejected even from his own relatives. When the diseased was examined by the official religious authorities and declared it a Leprosy, then the leper had to isolate and live outside apart, with not human or animal contact until he was cured and only then he could be examined by the religious authorities to be declared clean.
“A person infected with leprosy must wear his clothing torn and his hair disordered; he must cover his upper lip and cry “Unclean, unclean; and therefore, he must live apart: he must live outside the camp” (Lev. 13:45-46). Does it sound familiar to you specially at these stressing times of the pandemic? Have you experience isolation from your loved ones or deprived of any gesture of affection like a hug or a kiss because of a disease of or simply by any physical impediment? How does it feel like? Cry to Jesus and say “if you want to you can cure me!
Central Message: “Sir, if you want to you can cure me” … Jesus stretched out his hand, touched him and said, of course I want to! Be cured!” … “But go and show yourself to the priest and make the offering for your healing as Moses prescribed it, as evidence for them”. “Jesus went off to some place where he could be alone and pray”.
- “Sir, if you want to you can cure me” … Jesus stretched out his hand, touched him and said, of course I want to! Be cured!” After Jesus had call four of his disciples to follow him, he started teaching them “how to catch men” (Lk 5:11). He starts with the encounter of a leper. As it was prescribed by the Jewish law, a leper begins to shout at them, “Unclean, unclean!”, so that He and his followers become aware of the situation and avoid any contact or nearness to him not to becoming unclean as it was believed. But the more he shouted the more Jesus got closer and closer to him; the shout did not deter Jesus from coming closer to him, he was more concern about the human sickness than breaking the Law by touching him and become unclean.
He is not afraid of contracting leprosy and be declared unclean. He instead wants to infect the leper with his healing touch. He knows well how much the leper has suffered not only physically but psychologically, the rejection, the isolation, the inability to make any human contact with the ones he loved. He was totally outcast from family and society. God knows how long he has been like that.
Many died alone by themselves in this condition, perhaps with no face, no fingers, no feet since leprosy rots the limbs that they just fell off from the body. Jesus not only wants to put an end his physical pain and suffering, but he wants to put an end all exclusion and rejection and make him feel human again. Jesus knows that he is badly in need of a human touch of love, care and concern. So, Jesus stretched out his hand and said “of course I want to” be cure! The leprosy left at once.
- “But go and show yourself to the priest and make the offering for your healing as Moses prescribed it, as evidence for them”. In the Jewish tradition sickness was associated with sin and therefore the priest had to declare the person “unclean” and then isolate him. When the infected person got cured, the same priest had to make a judgment on whether the person was cured or not to be able to lift the burden of guilt from his shoulders. Jesus quotes the book of Leviticus 14:1-7, to confirm that he is not breaking the Jewish law but doing what the law prescribes. In addition to this, as Jesus sends the leper to show himself to the priest it was with the intention to serve as witness of the healing miracle, so they could believe that the miracle really happened giving them the opportunity to give Glory to God. Their believe was that if such a thing took place it would have been accompanied with the coming of the Messiah, but he will not be recognised as such.
And what was prescribed by Moses? It was about the instructions made by God to Moses on leprosy and those healed of this disease (see chapter 14:1-32). It was basically a ritual sacrifice of atonement performed by both the leper and the priest after which a healing has taken place and the man was declared clean.
- “Jesus went off to some place where he could be alone and pray”. Luke tells us that great multitudes came to hear and be healed from their sicknesses. The people may have not had the intention to give glory and worship God, but they were only looking for their own interest and what they could get out of Jesus. Jesus, in text of John, would tell the people “you are looking for me not because you saw signs but because you ate the loaves and were filled” (John 6:26). That meant that they only came for selfish reasons. So,Jesus seeing their intentions and overwhelmed by the crows, he had to withdraw to a place where he could be alone with the Father and pray.
He needed that moment of intimacy with God, he needed to recharge his spiritual bond with the Father to do his will. Jesus teaches us here how important prayer is, how vital is to keep connected with God and making him the centre of our lives. This is true especially when we are busy and lose connection with God, forgetting that He must come first in the order of our priorities.
We must slow down and listen to God, listen to his word day by day. Very few people today want to worship and give glory to God, they look only for what can they get out of him. Jesus of course likes them to have their needs met, not only physical but first and foremost spiritually, that is salvation. Let us do not lose our connection with God otherwise he will withdraw from us.
Some questions for our reflexion:
1. What are your leprosies that alienate you from others? Aren’t you tired of them?
2. How would you approach Jesus and ask him to heal you?
3. How much time do you spend with God in daily life? Does He come first in the order of your priorities?