I have met many lepers. The first leper I met profoundly moved me. There are many stories that I would love to share with you. But the first part of today’s Gospel that speaks about the healing of the Leper did not strike me so much. Sure, the fact that the leper speaks with such eloquent humility is in itself powerful. It is hard not be moved by his words, “If you wish, you can make me clean.” Jesus’ response is also quite beautiful in its utter simplicity: “I do will it. Be made clean.” But what stood out to me was what happened after that.
I am not surprised that the leper would humbly long to be healed, nor that Christ and therefore God would want to heal him. Rather, I was surprised by the fact that the leper’s wounds and his subsequent joy in being healed were so powerful that it made him not listen to God, and eventually go as far as to disobey God. I suppose it is true in all of us. We can get so fixated upon ourselves, upon our own feelings, wants, desires, joys, pains, etc. that we no longer are able to listen to the other.
It is hard to obey, and it is just as hard, and perhaps even harder, to listen to God who speaks to us so that we might know what we should obey. Yet, a spirit of obedience is a spirit that listens, and it is a spirit that is open to encounter the other. It is a spirit that snaps us out of the stupor of our own wants and desires and truly seeks what is good. The Leper did not listen to Christ when Jesus told him to not tell anyone and to obey the laws and rituals, rather with a false exuberance he shouted out on the roof tops what had happened to him.
How should this impact our Parish? I would think that this is a gentle reminder that we must be open to the will of God, and trust him above all things. It is also a powerful witness to the importance of listening.