Thursday, January 06, 2011

Gospel for Friday after Epiphany

From: Luke 5:12-16

The Cure of a Leper
[12] While he (Jesus) was in one of the cities, there came a man full of leprosy; and when he saw Jesus, he fell on his face and besought him, "Lord, if you will, you can make me clean." [13] And he stretched out his hand, and touched him, saying, "I will; be clean." And immediately the leprosy left him. [14] And he charged him to tell no one; but "go and show yourself to the priest, and make an offering for your cleansing, as Moses commanded, for a proof to the people." [15] But so much the more the report went abroad concerning him; and great multitudes gathered to hear and to be healed of their infirmities. [16] But he withdrew to the wilderness and prayed.

12. The words of the leper are a model prayer. First, they show his faith. "He did not say, 'If you ask God for it...', but 'If you will"' (Chrysostom, "Hom. on St Matthew", 25). He rounds this off by saying, "You can"--an open confession of Christ's omnipotence. The psalmist expressed this same faith: "Whatever the Lord pleases he does, in heaven and on earth, in the seas and in the deep" (Ps 135:6). Along with this faith he shows confidence in God's mercy. "God is merciful; there is no need therefore to ask him; all we have to do is show him our need" (St Thomas Aquinas, "Commentary on St Matthew", 8, 1). And St John Chrysostom concludes: "Prayer is perfect when it is joined to faith and confession; the leper showed his faith and confessed his need out loud" ("Hom. on St Matthew", 25).

"'Domine!--Lord--"si vis, potes me mundare"--if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.' What a beautiful prayer for you to say often, with the faith of the poor leper, when there happens to you what God and you and I know! You will not have to wait long to hear the Master's reply: '"Volo, mundare!" I will: be thou made clean!"' ([St] J. Escriva, "The Way", 142).

13. Jesus listens to the leper's petition and cures him of his disease. All of us suffer from spiritual ailments and our Lord is waiting for us to approach him: "He is our physician, and he heals our selfishness if we let his grace penetrate to the depths of our soul. Jesus has taught us that the worst sickness is hypocrisy, the pride that leads us to hide our own sins. We have to be totally sincere with him. We have to tell the whole truth, and then we have to say, 'Lord, if you will'--and you are always willing--'you can make me clean' (Mt 8:2). You know my weaknesses; I feel these symptoms; I suffer these failings. We show him the wound, with simplicity, and if the wound is festering, we show the pus too. Lord, you have cured so many souls; help me to recognize you as the divine physician when I have you in my heart or when I contemplate your presence in the tabernacle" ([St] J. Escriva, "Christ Is Passing By", 93).

16. The Third Gospel frequently draws attention to Jesus going off, alone, to pray (cf. 6:12; 9:18; 11:1). By doing this Jesus teaches us the need for personal prayer in all the various situations in which we find ourselves.

"Forgive me if I insist, but it is very important to note carefully what the Messiah did, because he came to show us the path that leads to the Father. With our Lord we will discover how to give a supernatural dimension to all our actions, even those that seem least important. We will learn to live every moment of our lives with a lively awareness of eternity, and we will understand more deeply man's need for periods of intimate conversation with his God, so as to get to know him, to invoke him, to praise him, to break out into acts of thanksgiving, to listen to him or, quite simply, to be with him" ([St] J. Escriva, "Friends of God", 239).
Source: "The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries". Biblical text taken from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries made by members of the Faculty of Theology of the University of Navarre, Spain. Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland. Reprinted with permission from Four Courts Press and Scepter Publishers, the U.S. publisher.

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