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January 11, 2019

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book PNG2112Gospel: Luke 5:12-16
One day, in another town, a man came to Jesus covered with leprosy. On seeing Jesus, the man bowed down to the ground, and said, “Lord, if you want to, you can make me clean.”Stretching out his hand, Jesus touched the man and said, “Yes, I want to. Be clean.” In an instant, the leprosy left him. Then Jesus instructed him, “Tell this to no one. But go, and show yourself to the priest. Make an offering for your healing, as Moses prescribed; that will serve as evidence for them.”But the news about Jesus spread all the more; and large crowds came to him, to listen and to be healed of their sickness. As for Jesus, he would often withdraw to solitary places and pray.

“Yes, I want to.”
It doesn’t take much to coax an act of healing mercy out of Jesus; just a leper, in this case, who says “If you want to, you can make me clean.” The leper appeals not from his own de­sire—what he wants from Jesus (though that must be clear). Instead, he appeals to Jesus’ de­sire: that all should be whole and well, that those who are margi­nalized and outcast should be welcomed. (The leper’s submis­ sive attitude recalls Jesus’ later prayer: “Not my will, but yours be done.”) And Jesus confirms the leper’s appeal: “I do want to…”We approach Jesus with our own needs and sufferings, per­haps doubting that they merit his attention or compassion. But he is the embodiment of such compassion. If it were a matter of what he “wanted” to do, there would surely be no end to his compassion.We should approach Jesus with confidence in his power to heal us and fulfill our deepest longing. That may not take the form of physical healing. But as the Epistle of John reminds us, through Jesus God has offered us the gift of eternal life. That is what he wants for us. It only falls on us to want it too.

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