There’s quite a bit of laughing and astonishment in today’s Liturgy of the Word, and I like it!
“Lord, if you wish you can make me clean.” In some ways, that is the biggest understatement in all of Scripture. Of course God can make him clean, God can do anything God wants to do. But for the leper, I think it’s less of an understatement than it is a statement of faith. He seems to have heard of or maybe has even seen some of Jesus’ other mighty deeds, and he is expressing the faith that Jesus can help him. The big “if” for him, though is the “if you wish” part. And of course, Jesus does wish, and he is made clean.
In our first reading, God wishes to heal Abraham and Sarah too. They display far less faith than our leper, but in their defense, they are new to the whole experience of God. They would be happy enough for God to just bless them through Ishmael. While God does grant descendants to Ismael, he intends to do more for the aged couple: he will give them a child through Sarah. Abraham can’t imagine that coming to pass, and he laughs in the face of such overwhelming blessing. But it is God who has the last laugh: he indeed gives them a son through Sarah, whom they are to name “Isaac,” which in Hebrew means, “God laughs.”
God can do anything God wishes. Nothing is an obstacle for God, except, of course, for our lack of faith. If we have the faith that our leper had in the Gospel reading, we might well be amused to see what God can do in us and through us and among us. That doesn’t mean every whim of ours will be God’s pleasure, but it does mean that the ways he blesses us might make us all laugh for joy.