Today’s readings represent some of the deepest longings of the human heart, and expose one of the deepest wounds of the human heart. The deep wound is the feeling of abandonment that we experience in the midst of trial. Just as the Jews must have felt abandoned by God when the walls of the city fell, the Temple was burnt down, and everyone was marched off to exile in Babylon, so we can sometimes feel abandoned from time to time when we struggle with the many trials that come to us. Whether it’s illness, death, or even a wayward family member, whether it’s unemployment or underemployment, or whatever the trial may be, it can be so devastating, and gives us the feeling that we are all alone.
It can be easy to forget God in those times when it seems like God has forgotten us. And so the Psalmist expresses one of the deep longings of the human heart: “Let my tongue be silenced if ever I forget you!” The Psalmist meant Jerusalem, but Jerusalem was really for them a symbol of God himself. When people get to the place of forgetting God, all hope is really lost. Remembering God in adversity at least gives us the light of faith, the glimmer of hope. How people get through the hard times in life without faith, I’ll never know. The Psalmist today desperately prays that no one would ever have to find out.
The leper in the Gospel reading expresses the second of the deep longings: “Lord if you wish, you can make me clean.” When we have sinned and fallen from God, we often don’t know whether God would want anything to do with us. We can feel unworthy of salvation, which of course is what Satan really wants to have happen to us. Because when we’ve turned away from God in shame, again we lose that light of faith and that glimmer of hope. But the answer to the Leper’s question is what we sinners all have to hear today: “I do will it. Be made clean.”
God would rather die than live forever without us. We have to remember that those deep longings of our heart were put there by our God who never wants us to forget him, and who desperately wills that we be made clean. We may from time to time in our lives have to sit by the streams of Babylon and weep. But we must never lose hope in the One who always wills our salvation.