In the gospel account we hear this Sunday, we witness Jesus encountering a man with leprosy. An outcast in society, this man knew that he was not permitted to go anywhere near someone like Jesus. However, his faith in Jesus is so strong it makes him brave, and so the man approaches, begging on his knees to be cleansed if Jesus wills it.
Moved by this, Jesus reaches out and touches him, making him clean. Jesus tells the man not to mention this to anybody. However, in his excitement, the word of Jesus’ healing ministry spreads and many people begin to seek him out. Although this is only a short reading, there is much to unpack from this encounter. Today, we will focus specifically on the power of the leper’s faith and the profound impact this had on his life.
It was well-known within the culture at the time that if you were considered unclean you were a societal outcast. Unclean people were required to observe certain behaviours. This included wearing torn clothing to noticeably separate you from others within society, whilst also having to live in isolation outside of your community – quite literally ‘untouchable’.
The leper we meet in the reading knew these rules very well, and therefore also knew he should not even look in Jesus’ direction. Yet, his faith in Jesus’ ministry was absolute; he did not doubt Jesus for a second, and knowing he was his only hope he did everything he could to reach him. This boldness changed his life.
We can learn so much from the leper, for we are the leper.
As we approach the transformative season of Lent, we must boldly reach out to Christ for healing just like the leper, in whatever way we may need. For many of us, it might be for our brokenness. You may identify with sometimes feeling ashamed of your sin, your fear, your anxiety, your doubts, as if you don’t deserve to be healed. But just as he reached out to touch the leper, Christ also reaches out to touch you and change your life, if only you are bold enough to approach him, brokenness and all.
May you approach Christ this Lent with the hope of the leper and may your encounter with Him bring healing and great love into your heart.