Jesus and the Lepers
Have you ever noticed how many fad diets or exercise gimmicks that constantly come and go in our world? Like the Prancer-cise exercise, where if you prance around like a horse your extra weight will just magically disappear. Or the vibration exercise machine, where you would literally strap a belt around your midsection and vibrate the fat away. Or my favorite, the ab belt, where a person would strap another belt around their midsection and voluntarily electrocute themselves in the hopes of sculpting exquisite six-pack abs.
They all have a few things in common:
• People flocked to these fads
• It “worked” for some people but for a large number it didn’t
• These fads have all but disappeared from our world
In the Gospel today we heard about Christ healing the leper and saying to him, “See that you tell no one anything.” See, leprosy in Christ’s time was a terrible burden; people would become deformed with sores and wounds from the disease. Others would treat them as second-and-third-class citizens. They would ostracize them to the outskirts of the town or kick them out all together. They would think of lepers as unclean, and families would even disown them. It was a terrible disease to have, and it was a disease that would make people desperate. It was out of this desperation that the leper begged Christ to heal him.
The leper, and those seeking to lose weight, are similar in their desperation to find something that works, and in Christ’s time there were many people desperate for healing. We hear in scripture of the blind, the deaf, the mute, the dead – and Christ heals each one. But Christ didn’t come as a healer, although He healed. He came as a Savior, a Savior to all. Not only a Savior to the sick and wounded, but a Savior to the rich, the poor, the old and the young, the Savior for ALL.
In His amazing wisdom, He knew that people would pour in to see this amazing healer, and so He asked the leper to keep this to himself; he didn’t, and as the scripture goes, the people came, they came to see a healer and to be healed, not to find a Savior. People flocked in droves to see Him, just like people flock in droves for the next fad diet. Christ came, not to be the next fad religion, but to establish His Church and to build the foundation.
Today, just as in the time of Christ, we must guard ourselves against turning our Catholic faith into a fad religion, one where people search for the extraordinary and quickly leave when the extraordinary isn’t found. For the vast majority of the faithful, they will not see the extraordinary gifts like Padre Pio, with levitation, and John Vianney, with the gift of bilocation. But they will see the wonderful miracles of the everyday, the Johnny footballs who defy peer pressure and will take a knee and pray before a football game. Sally who chooses life for the child she carries at the age of 16, or Tommy who has taken the wrong path but by the grace of God finds his faith and returns home.
Our faith isn’t solely about extraordinary miracles, although there are beautiful stories of the extraordinary. Our faith is a journey that has a glorious destination. Christ came and showed us the way; He even gave us extraordinary miracles to jump-start our journey. It’s in each and every step that we take every day that defines our faith, and these steps become the foundation of our journey for our ultimate goal and destination.
Guard your hearts and share not just the gift of healing but, more importantly, the miracle of the journey, so that those you evangelize will search not for a healer of the mortal but for a Savior for their eternity.