Thursday, June 25, 2009

You Can Make Me Clean

June 26, 2009

Friday of the Twelfth Week in Ordinary Time

By Melanie Rigney

I will maintain my covenant with him as an everlasting pact, to be his God and the God of his descendants after him. (Genesis 17:19)

Just so will they be blessed who fear the Lord. (Psalms 128:4)

When Jesus came down from the mountain, great crowds followed him. And then a leper approached, did him homage, and said, "Lord, if you wish, you can make me clean." He stretched out his hand, touched him, and said, "I will do it. Be made clean." His leprosy was cleansed immediately. (Matthew 8:1-3)


Father of Mercy, forgive my failings, keep me in Your Grace, and lead me in the way of salvation. Give me strength in serving You as a follower of Christ. May the Eucharist bring me Your Forgiveness and give me freedom to serve You all my life. May it help me to remain faithful and give me the grace I need in Your service. May it teach me the way to eternal life. (Unattributed prayer at Catholic Online.)


A good friend and I talked recently about Jesus’s post-resurrection appearances. Thomas saw the wounds; the disciples who encountered him on the road to Emmaus saw him in the breaking of the bread; Mary Magdalene recognized his voice. He came in the form people needed him to come, we concluded. And what an amazing thing that is.

In today’s Gospel reading, we see that same grace. Jesus touches a leper before healing him. One wonders when the afflicted man had last felt a friendly human touch – the law prohibited it, after all – and what the crowds thought as Jesus did it. They likely oohed and ahhed a few moments later when the man’s physical wounds were healed, but the emotional healing provided by that touch may have passed them by completely.

Sometimes, we strive to emulate Christ by doing service—feeding the poor, advocating for immigrant rights, marching for the unborn, assisting the elderly. The work can make us grim; there is, after all, an unending sea of humanity that requires our attention. And yet, when we focus on the mechanical aspects of service, we miss the lesson Christ taught us in the touching of the leper. We fail him and ourselves when we go through the motions and withhold a touch, a smile, a laugh, or a hug.

Let us strive to come in the form people need us to come. Bless—and let others bless you.


Smile at everyone you meet.