Today, I was told some exciting news and then was told not to tell anyone, as it was a secret. I believe that all of us have experienced that feeling of excitement to share some wonderful news but we have to wait until the right time. It can be anything like a new job, a new love, or a new baby. Often when couples are told the good news that they are expecting a new baby, they wait until after the first trimester to tell their exciting news. This drives new soon-to-be grandparents wild because they have to wait to share the news. My point is that when we are happy and excited to share some great news it can be difficult to keep it a secret.
In first-century Israel, people with leprosy were not allowed to mix with others. They were considered unclean and were cast out of the cities to anywhere away from people. The man, in the Gospel of Luke, dared to find Jesus within the city walls and asked to be healed. This was not an uncommon request for Jesus as he spent most of his three years in ministry healing people physically, emotionally and spiritually. It was no different with this man. Jesus healed him but then said something strange, “He ordered him to tell no one. “Go,” he said, “and show yourself to the priest, and, as Moses commanded, make an offering for your cleansing, as a testimony to them.” He had just been cured of leprosy and he was not to tell anyone. In what world does that happen! I imagine that this man was ecstatic when he saw that his skin was no longer diseased or that he would know longer be unclean and cast away from people. Once again, he could live with his family and friends. He could get a job and earn a living as well as find a home within the city walls. How could he be expected to stay quiet? What was Jesus thinking?
Throughout the gospels, Jesus restored lives. He gave sight to the blind, (Mt 20:29-34), he raised the widow’s son from death (Lk 7:11-15), he removed demons (Lk 8:22-39), and so on. With each healing, people’s lives were restored so that they could once again live within the community. I believe that Jesus did not want the cured man to get distracted or deterred from his acceptance back into his community. He did not want the man to get caught up in being cured and miss the opportunity to be seen as completely whole. The requirement of the Law of Moses was to offer a gift to God, then get checked out by the priest so that he would be declared well to live in community again; only then he could celebrate his new life.
This story is a good reminder to open our eyes to “see” others. Just like Pope Francis, we too are called to care for people, not just the people like us, but on the fringes, who need to be seen, touched and healed. In the story, Jesus did not want the man to become distracted from his purpose in being declared whole. We too should not become distracted with our busy lives and not see our “neighbors” in need. We can celebrate that Christ makes us whole and shows us the way to see others with love. That is something we do not have to keep to ourselves but can shout it from the rooftops.
*(Faith Karimi, CNN.com- 2013/11/07)