Well, I didn’t preach this week, but some things came to me as I prayed through the scriptures this weekend.
First, the leper in the Gospel was clearly a man of faith. “If you will it, you can make me clean.” There is no hesitation there; he knows that Jesus can heal him. Whether this comes from an actual life of faith or whether it is just from what he’s seen and observed about Jesus’ healings so far, he clearly knows without a doubt that Jesus can make him clean.
Second, Jesus responds to the man’s faith: “I do will it. Be made clean.” It’s as simple as that — faith makes the work Jesus came to do possible. And it’s as difficult as that — even our lack of faith can stymie the work of Christ in our lives.
Third, it doesn’t matter how often Jesus tells those who have been healed to keep it under their hats, they can’t help but make it known. The leper in today’s Gospel seems most enthusiastic to do so: he publicized the whole matter, spread it abroad, and through his proclamation of the saving event in his life, people came to Jesus “from everywhere.”
Fourth, and this almost should go without saying, but the real saving news here is not the healing, although that’s certainly up there. The real Good News here is that Jesus reaches out and touches the man. His reaching out to touch an untouchable makes it possible for all of us to go outside ourselves, and reach out to those it is difficult to touch, and bring them the healing and loving touch of Christ. If Jesus didn’t do it, we’d have no reason to; now that he has, the ball’s in our court.
Finally, all of these acts of faith make possible not just mere healing, not just a mere cessation of leprosy, or whatever it is we’re afflicted with, but more than that: true joy. God yearns to not just make the pain go away but to completely change our lives. And this complete change is what the psalmist sings about today: “I turn to you, Lord, in time of trouble, and you fill me with the joy of salvation.” The Lord didn’t just make the psalmist’s troubles go away, but the Lord actually filled the psalmist with the joy of salvation. Our acts of faith are truly blessed.