Friday, June 26 ~ Twelfth Week in Ordinary Time
Saint Josemaria Escriva de Balaguer, Priest
Holy Gospel: Matthew 8:1-4 When Jesus came down from the mountain, great crowds followed him. And then a leper approached, did him homage, and said, “Lord, if you wish, you can make me clean.” He stretched out his hand, touched him, and said, “I will do it. Be made clean.” His leprosy was cleansed immediately. Then Jesus said to him, “See that you tell no one, but go show yourself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses prescribed; that will be proof for them.”
Meditation: What can hold us back from approaching the Lord with faith and confidence that he can change and transform us – perhaps fear, pride, and the risk of losing one’s reputation and friends? Jesus did something which was both remarkable and unthinkable at the same time. He approached the “unapproachables” – he touched the untouchables. Lepers were outcasts of society. Their physical condition was terrible as they slowly lost the use of their limbs and withered away with open sores over their entire bodies. They were not only shunned but regarded as “already dead” even by their relatives. The Jewish law forbade anyone from touching or approaching a leper, lest ritual defilement occur. The leper did something quite remarkable. He approached Jesus confidently and humbly, expecting that Jesus could and would heal him. Normally a leper would be stoned or at least warded off if he tried to come near a rabbi. Jesus not only grants the man his request, but he demonstrates the personal love, compassion, and tenderness of God in his physical touch. The medical knowledge of his day would have regarded such contact as grave risk for incurring infection. Jesus met the man’s misery with compassion and tender kindness. He communicated the love and mercy of God in a sign that spoke more eloquently than words. He touched the man and made him clean – not only physically but spiritually as well.
Prayer: O God, who alone are holy and without whom no one is good, command, we pray, through the intercession of Saint Josemaría Escrivá, that we be numbered among those who do no deserve to be deprived of your glory. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Contemplation: There once was a man named Francis, who at one point in his life met a leper on the road as he journeyed towards Assisi in Italy. “Though the leper caused him no small disgust and horror, he nonetheless, got off the horse and prepared to kiss the leper. But when the leper put out his hand as though to receive something, he received money along with a kiss” (from The Life of St. Francis by Thomas of Celano). Francis did what seemed humanly impossible because he was filled with the love and compassion of Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit inflames our hearts with the fire of Christ’s love that we may reach out to others with compassionate care, especially to those who have been rejected, mistreated, and left utterly alone. Do you allow the Holy Spirit to fill your heart with the love and compassion of Christ for others?
Scripture passages (NAB translation) courtesy of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops;
prayers are from The Roman Missal, Catholic Book Publishing, 2011;
information about saints, solemnities, feasts and memorials courtesy of Catholic Culture.