Homily for Friday after Epiphany
I know I’ve talked about The Chosen in a homily once before. For those who may not know it, it is the recent mini-series on the life and ministry of Jesus. In one of the episodes in the first season, the scene from today’s Gospel is portrayed (see video below) and, it should come as no surprise to anyone, I cried during that episode. It’s pretty easy to make me cry, by the way. But the episode really captures the emotion of this encounter between Jesus and the man with leprosy. It shows a man who wholeheartedly believes that Jesus is the Savior of the world and can absolutely make the impossible become possible.
Lepers in the time of Jesus were completely ostracized by the community. It was believed that leprosy was the result of sin in the person’s life. But the reality was that no one truly understood the origins of the disease and, out of fear, forced those suffering from it to enter into isolation and totally cut themselves off from the larger community. The community was so fearful about the illness that anyone who came into contact with someone suffering from it would be declared unclean.
So imagine the surprise of the apostles and other disciples when Jesus embraces this man. Imagine the horror and the dismay. But also notice how quickly Jesus changes the shock and dismay present in his disciples’ hearts. He replaces it with a sense of wonder and awe because, before their very eyes, Jesus works a miracle and cleanses the man.
Leprosy still exists in our world today. The leprosy of today is sin. And Jesus desires to heal us from that leprosy in the same way that he healed the man in today’s Gospel. How can he do that? Because He is the Son of God, the Savior of the world, the One of whom the Spirit testifies. Jesus, He is the victor over the world, the victor over sin and death.
Jesus desires to heal us of our leprosy. He desires to enter into the shame and the guilt that we feel as a result of our sin. He desires to bring us back into full communion with the Father and into full communion with each other as Church. What might seem impossible to us is totally possible through Him. Do we have the faith and the courage to turn to Him like the man in today’s Gospel? If we do, let’s run to Him in the confessional. If not, let’s ask Him for the grace to desire it.