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January 8 - Luke 5: 12 -16

Fr. Michael MachacekNativity of Our LordJanuary 8, 2021
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Today's other readings are 1 John 5: 5-13; and Psalm 147

In his reflection on today's gospel from FaithND, Adam Whittaker shares a saying of St. Augustine that I had not heard before: “God provides the wind, man must raise the sail.”   This phrase is particularly appropriate for this story.

Leprosy, more properly known as Hansen's disease, has been a disease that has plagued humanity for a very long time.  While is extremely rare in Canada (fewer than 100 cases per year), it can last several years or be lifelong, and quite dangerous if left untreated.  It is transmitted through airborne exposure. 

This disease was quite prevalent in the Holy Land.  So much so that in both the Book of Leviticus and the Book of Numbers we read the various laws of exclusion that prevented lepers from being in any contact with healthy people.  Any leper was sentenced to a permanent exclusion from family, friends and any settlement.  if somehow they were healed, they would first have to go the priests who would examine them and then lift the exclusion sanctions they had faced.  

With this background, we can see that there a few things about this gospel that quite shocking.  First, that this leper has entered a city.  It was a tremendous risk, as people would see him and possibly even stone him.  And then he comes up to Jesus.  Lepers could only address people from afar.  But he comes up close to Jesus, and he places his request: Lord, if you choose, you can make me clean.  He does so not knowing how Jesus will react to his presence, and in his request, he places himself a position of great humility - he puts all his reliance on someone he has never met before.  

The miracle happens, and the man is then instructed to go to the priests for the lifting of the sanctions against him.

Somehow, this man realized that Jesus, the Son of God, was the source of healing.  Jesus is the one who provides the wind, in this case, the wind of healing of St. Augustine's saying above.  But the leper also had to raise the sail - in this case, risk stoning and or acts of violence by the townspeople present to come to Jesus and place his request.  

A question for you and I to consider - how far will we go, what are willing to risk to place ourselves before the feet of our God?