A reading from the gospel according to Luke 5:12-16:
12 It happened that there was a man full of leprosy in one of the towns where Jesus was; and when he saw Jesus, he fell prostrate, pleaded with him, and said, “Lord, if you wish, you can make me clean.”
13 Jesus stretched out his hand, touched him, and said, “I do will it. Be made clean.” And the leprosy left him immediately.
14 Then he ordered him not to tell anyone, but “Go, show yourself to the priest and offer for your cleansing what Moses prescribed; that will be proof for them.”
15 The report about him spread all the more, and great crowds assembled to listen to him and to be cured of their ailments,
16 but he would withdraw to deserted places to pray.
Reflection: Healing is Freedom
Leprosy is a terrible skin disease. It destroys the physical body through gradual loss of nose and other parts. Not only that, there is also the destruction of emotional well-being. The person afflicted with it is practically an outcast. He is rejected and isolated. People avoid him. Who would like to be near him, much less touch him? To some people, that is more painful than physical pain.
During the time of Jesus, anyone who suffers from leprosy is prevented from interacting with other people. They were banned from going to market or attending temple services. When someone approaches, they have to shout “unclean!” in order to warn him or her. When these lepers were healed, they needed to get some sort of “certification” from a priest before they can be accepted again in society.
The gospel reading above shows us that Jesus was fulfilling His mission that we have read in Luke 4:14-22, our reading yesterday. The healing of a leper is exactly a kind of restoration or freedom. To be isolated and considered untouchable is a sort of oppression. So when Jesus healed the leper, He did not only restore physical health but also granted emotional wellness as well as spiritual freedom.
After the healing, Jesus instructed the restored man not to tell anyone. He was at the beginning of His ministry and He did not want to get undue attention from many people that could cause Him trouble because it is not yet His “time”. He also asked the man to show himself to the priest to get proof of healing so he could be reintegrated to his family and to the community. Now that is indeed freedom that Jesus can give!
See also related reflection here.