“Lord, if you wish, you can make me clean.” He stretched out his hand, touched him, and said, “I will do it. Be made clean” (Mt 8:2-3).
Jesus could have healed the man with a word from a distance. Instead, he chose to come close and to reach out and touch the leper. In doing so, he risked contamination, risked being deemed ritually unclean. Yet, Jesus came close anyway and touched the man such that he was healed. The Son of God, from his reality of divinity with his Father, beyond all space and time, was sent by his Father, to come close to us and become human. He became one with us in our humanity so we could become one with him in his divinity.
There are many ways in which we consider others to be unclean and so deemed to be kept at arm’s length. Doing so cuts us off from entering into a relationship with one another AND God. We then begin to believe the stirring of thoughts swirling around in our minds about the other person or persons instead of getting to know another human being with their imperfections yes, but also their gifts.
Getting to know someone beyond first appearances or prejudgements happens when we spend time together. There is a lot more to who we are than the caricatures we may have had imposed upon us or we have imposed upon others. This is also true regarding our relationship with God. We so often attempt to reduce God to what we can understand. God is not about limitation but expansion. He comes close to us in his Son so through Jesus we can get to know the love of the Holy Spirit shared between them and once we have experienced this love we are to reach out to others in their need.
Jesus continues to come close, to touch and heal us as he did the leper in today’s Gospel. If we are willing, he seeks to be intimately a part of every aspect of our lives. He seeks to accompany us in our fears, struggles, and pain. He also celebrates with us when we overcome, repent, experience joy, and especially when we love one another. When we are willing to close the gap and come close, willing to be a conduit of accompaniment and reconciliation, we will begin to see healing in ourselves, our families, communities, and beyond our bubble wrap of comfort. The question is: Are we, like the leper, willing to allow Jesus to come close and like Jesus, willing to draw near to others?
Photo: Willing to come close and build friendships!