Friday, January 07, 2011

I Do Will It. Be Made Clean

January 7, 2010
Friday after Epiphany

By Melanie Rigney

And this is the testimony: God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever possesses the Son has life; whoever does not possess the Son of God does not have life. (1 John 5:11-12)

Praise the Lord, Jerusalem. (Psalms 147:12)

Jesus stretched out his hand, touched (the leper), and said, “I do will it. Be made clean.” And the leprosy left him immediately. Then he ordered him not to tell anyone, but “Go, show yourself to the priest and offer for your cleansing what Moses prescribed; that will be proof for them.” (Luke 5:13-14)

Lord, my anxieties and doubts sometimes make me feel like an outcast, despairing of a closer walk with You. Help me to learn from the miracle of the leper that there is no divide You cannot bridge, no matter how arduous the prescribed procedures for healing appear to be.

“Offer for your cleansing what Moses prescribed; that will be proof for them,” Jesus advises the leper he has just cured with a touch.

The New American Bible note on this verse cites Leviticus 14 and its instructions for purifying someone with leprosy. The instructions take fifty-seven verses totaling about 1,500 words.

Yet in today’s Gospel reading from Luke, Jesus simply stretches out his hand, touches the leper and says seven words: “I do will it. Be made clean.”

It’s maddening, sometimes, how easy Jesus made it look to work miracles during his ministry. It’s even more maddening, sometimes, how difficult we make it for him to do work miracles in our lives. We put conditions on forgiveness. We try to keep joy within requirements we can articulate. We aim to make grace measurable and quantifiable.

As we near the end of the Christmas season, may we all resolve to focus less on defining God’s presence by limits and rules, and more on celebrating the countless ways in which He says to each of us every day: “I do will it. Be made clean.”

Are there people in your life you’ve been treating like lepers, holding them at arms’ length over a petty squabble or even over a serious disagreement? Make a list of the conditions you have set for a full reconciliation. Then tear the list up, and begin reaching out to them, praying that both they and you may be made clean.