Today, Jesus manifests himself not just as one who came to do flashy deeds and heal the sick, but as one who does will that we would be made clean. If we take the miracle we have in today’s Gospel at face value, then it’s really nothing special, to be honest. Jesus comes off as a doctor with perhaps supernatural powers. But when Jesus performs a miracle, there’s always something deeper he’s getting at, always something more profound that he intends to reveal. The healing of the leper reveals that Jesus is one who intends to heal us from the inside out.
“If you wish, you can make me clean.” It’s kind of a weird statement, don’t you think? On the face of it, it’s obviously true. Jesus can do anything he wishes. So it really seems to be a test of what it is that Jesus wishes to do. And in the light of continuing epiphany, Jesus reveals that he does, indeed, wish that the leper – and all of us too – would be made clean. Notice that the leper doesn’t ask to be healed of his leprosy, although being made clean could certainly be construed to mean just that. And Jesus doesn’t say, “I do will it, you’re healed.” He says instead, “be made clean.”
I think Jesus intends for the leper, as he intends for all of us, that his sins would be forgiven, and that he would indeed be clean on the inside just as much as on the outside. This may even have been the deepest desire of the poor leper’s heart, as it certainly may be for all of us. To be made clean inside and out is certainly within the power of Jesus’ abilities, if he would just will it. And today, we don’t have to tap dance around the issue or walk on eggshells to see if Jesus wills our complete healing. We see that he certainly does, and for that epiphany we should continue to rejoice.
The author of the letter to the Hebrews exhorts us to live a life faithful to the Gospel today – while it is still “today” – and not to be deceived by sin. The Psalmist exhorts us not to harden our hearts on hearing the Lord’s voice, as we so often do. And so we bring our unfaithfulness and our slightly-hardened hearts and all of our uncleanness to the Lord, and with the leper invite him to make all of it clean. He does will it; and so may we be made clean!