A Touching Encounter

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Did he think he was cursed because of his condition and circumstances? Did he imagine this was God’s doing? Had he given up on God, or did he still cling to faith? If we put ourselves in his place, and think that our own condition (physical, mental, or spiritual) is somehow God’s punishment, then what does our own tomorrow look like?  

For the man afflicted with leprosy, it was just another day for avoiding people—thinking, like them, that he was physically and maybe morally contagious. But then he caught a glimpse of Jesus, and his life changed unimaginably. His instinct, strong and compelling, was to trust this charismatic figure. So the nameless one dramatically threw himself to the ground, crying out for help: “Lord, if you wish, you can heal me.” He knew Jesus had the power but was not sure he had the will to use it. But Jesus left nobody in any doubt. In a single movement, he reached out, touched, spoke, and healed. Life forever changed. Faith immediately restored.  

“Don’t tell a soul,” says Jesus, not wanting to attract the gapers and the curious. But like the leprosy, the news was contagious, and “great crowds” came to look and to marvel. But what difference did it make, ultimately?  

In today’s world there is so much to marvel at. We can become saturated with novelty but learn very little. Jesus was not seeking crowds of the curious but faith from the few. The disciples seem to have missed the whole drama and lesson. Just like me, too often.  

© Liturgical Press.

Athony Gittens, CSSP

Anthony Gittins, CSSp, is Emeritus Professor of Theology and Culture at Catholic Theological Union. The author of many books, including The Way of Discipleship, he is a retreat preacher and offers seminars and talks on Intercultural Living and Missionary Discipleship.

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