If You Wish, You Can Make Me Clean

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

We heard last week that unintended people benefit from one’s loyalty to God.  We saw it when the mother-in-law of Peter who was burning up with a fever was instantly healed by Jesus even without anyone making a request.  Jesus heals.  It is why he became man for us: in order to heal us.  And unfortunately all of us have wounds that need to be healed, especially in the area of sexuality.  For greater intimacy with God and with one another we need a pure heart.

As we wrap up this series we want to look at how we go forward from here.  The gospel on the leper who came to Jesus was a man of faith.  Leprosy at that time was one of the worst diseases you could have and it caused immense suffering and isolation from society.  The prevailing thought was that if you had leprosy, you had sinned and were getting what you deserved.  Despite the laws against him, this man gravitated towards Jesus as the source of life.  He knew it Jesus there was a royal presence, and he had heard him speak before.  Perhaps he remembered his words: “Ask and you will receive.”

He prostrates himself in front of Jesus, as the Three Kings did in front of the Christ Child.  And his request is beautiful: “If you wish, you can make me clean.”  He does not ask for alms, or to be restored to his family or community; he asks for a cure.  But he implies that only if Jesus wants to do it.  This man prayed well the Our Father; thy will be done, not mine.  His request is not just about being healed; even if he is not healed he will still call him Lord, and get down on his knees.

Jesus is moved with pity for this man touches him and makes him clean.  He did not need to touch him and the Law stated that one should not be contaminated by the unclean.  Only a madman touches a leper in these times.  We see once again how Jesus acts differently.  By his touch he can restore what was lost and make it whole, which is what he did to this leper, and wants to do with us.

Our culture is correct in thinking that freedom will make us happy, but it has a mistaken notion of true freedom, which is not to do whatever we want.  True freedom comes from a pure heart and a relationship with Jesus Christ.  The way forward is purity of heart, no matter what happened in the past.  Perhaps some people today stay away from a relationship with God because they think they need to clean up your act before they can have faith.  People think they need to be perfect.  But God is not looking for perfection; he wants to give us this gift of a pure heart.  When Jesus says be cleansed the tense of the verb meant it was not something that the leper had to do, but something done for him.  It was a gift.

So we would like to invite you to take a few steps that will help you to have a clean heart.  All of us need to filter out the notion that men or women are mere objects for my pleasure.  This is something we see constantly in movies, commercials, websites, video games, etc.  There are also many false ideas about true romance that are marketed to women in the culture.  Married people may need to spend more time on your marriage and not reading books that give a substitute experience.  Perhaps a date night a few times a month, or just some time to be together would improve the communion between husband and wife.  Those who are single and associate dating with sex need to change your mentality and start again.

Abstinence is the best way to speed up the wedding day.  If he cannot honor you and wait for you he is not the right guy for you.  For all of us purity is heroic and a choice that brings you forward and raises you up.  It is good that you associate with others who share these values and who you can speak to about this.

There is a real connection between purity and one’s capacity to experience a mature relationship.  Purity is an investment in your future happiness, which will bring many rewards to all your relationships.  There is a way forward and God will always help us to reclaim what has been lost.  This is what God does: he saves us, restores us and makes us clean.  He finds what was lost.  No matter what your past God gives us a way forward and will bring much good even out of our mistakes.