WHAT YOU SEE (Mark 1:40-45): 15 February 2009 (Sixth Sunday of Ordinary Time)
About that leper you met in today’s gospel story: When the man fell on his knees before you and pleaded, “If you wish, you can make me clean”–what were the thoughts that first ran through your head? That first moment you laid eyes on him, what did you actually see?
The gospel says you were filled with pity, so you healed the leper and made him clean. But strangely you didn’t do it the way we’d expect a god to–through a word or even just a thought. Either one would have been enough and would have done the job quite efficiently. Rather, you chose to heal the leper in a most human way–by stretching out your hand and by touching him.
You must have seen something in him that moved you to heal him in such a physical and intimate way. You didn’t have to, but you did. Here was someone so long deprived of human touch, starving for years for some kind of contact–so you reached out and touched his leprous skin, and did so in your usual way: in full view of your stunned crowd of followers.
It took so little from you–just a little time and just a little touch–but it must have meant so much to the man. What a difference it must have all made. By touching him, you’ve done more than heal him; you’ve shown him just how much you cared for him and how much you wanted people to see that. By looking at him the way you did, he saw himself in your eyes and perhaps for the first time in a very long time, he remembered the person that he had once been, a person fully capable of being loved, and regained the self-worth that he had lost.
Lord, this morning, I fall before you and plead the same plea: “If you wish, you can make me whole.” I know you wish it. I know that as you lay your eyes on me, you will see my wounds and scars–signs of the history of detours and dead ends in my life–but you will also mercifully see that person that I often myself forget I am, the person I was created to be, the person that you’ve always loved.
It is so easy to be forgetful and to reduce ourselves to something less–to our accomplishments, our possessions, our friendships. But when these go wrong, when we lose them as we sometimes do, we lose ourselves as well. If you lay your eyes on me, I will see how you see me–and I will remember who I am.
And perhaps you will also lay your hands on me, and if you do, I will remember whoseI am.
As we wait for your touch, grant that we also lay our eyes and hands on those around us the way you do. Amen.