“If Only You Will, You Can Cleanse Me.”
Luke’s Gospel is the gospel of the lowly, the sick, the dispossessed. In today’s passage he describes Jesus’s encounter with one of the most despised in society, a man afflicted with leprosy.
He was probably a beggar by the roadside, shunned by all who passed by. His prayer is piteous: “Sir, if only you will, you can cleanse me.” And Jesus replies, “Indeed I will. Be clean again.” Even more, Jesus does the unthinkable: he reaches out and touches him, and the healing takes place immediately.
In these three words – “Indeed, I will” -- Jesus summarises his attitude to illness and possession. He has come to free us from whatever diminishes our bodies and binds our souls. He wants us to be free, he helps us to be free.
There is no recorded instance that Jesus ever turned anyone away from being healed, no matter how imperfect their dispositions were. He deliberately seeks out the maimed and the crippled, the blind, lepers – “I’ve come not to call the healthy but the sick”. He knows all too well that sickness is a metaphor for bondage, the sick person is tied to his past, his failings, his sins or is the victim of the sins of others. By curing the sick, Jesus’s opens their hearts to thanksgiving and praise, opens their ears to the fullness of the ‘good news’, opens their lives to discipleship.
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