Mk 1: 40-45
A leper came to Jesus, begging on his knees, “If you want to, you can cleanse me.”
Deeply moved, Jesus put out his hand, touched him, and said, “I want to. Be clean.”
Then and there the leprosy was gone, his skin smooth and healthy. Jesus dismissed him with strict orders: “Say nothing to anyone. Take the offering for cleansing that Moses prescribed and present yourself to the priest. This will validate your healing to the people.”
But as soon as the man was out of earshot, he told everyone he met what had happened, spreading the news all over town. So Jesus kept to out-of-the-way places, no longer able to move freely in and out of the city. But people found him, and came from all over.
The Gospel of Few Words is, I have realised, a gift to storytellers – as I am sure the first preachers and teachers must have been; as many are now. It can rattle along at a breathless pace, the urgency of the Message whispered under cover of night and behind closed doors. And then……
‘If you want to’
How many ways can you say those four words? Politely; confidently; cajolingly; disarmingly? Or, disbelievingly and challengingly?
A leper; judged the greatest of outcasts; condemned as unclean; ‘dwelling apart’ – pleaded – the pleading of a human being with no place left to go; no pride; nothing whatsoever to lose. The child that Jesus often reminds us we should be; powerless yet trusting. The leper put himself at Jesus’ feet and Jesus healed him.
I wonder though how often we bring our prayers to Jesus in that way? Jesus tells us that the Father answers our prayers. But do we say ‘if you want to’? And do we believe that God truly does?