At first it doesn’t appear that the first reading today and the Gospel have anything in common today, but they do. Abraham fell on his face laughing in front of God that he didn’t believe God could give Sarah a baby. The leper in the Gospel however, knelt before Christ and asked him “if you choose you can make me clean”. Christ in his compassion made the leper clean. And God overlooked Abraham falling on his face in laughter and gave him a son anyway. It just goes to show you that God and Jesus both know the truth about us and it isn’t dependent on our fleeting, temporary feelings. The leper asked Christ with sincerity to heal him because he believed that he could. Abraham acted like a bit of a fool when he fell on his face laughing in front of God, but God knew all about the rest of his life and that Abraham was a faith filled, honorable man. This momentary glitch in his faith in God, did not deter the Lord from the more long range plans He had in mind for Abraham, Sarah and their descendants.
Thank goodness that God and Jesus both can see right through our momentary lapses in character and treat us like the kind of person they know we really are. No one wants to be remembered for the times in our life that we acted out of character, or had a momentary lapse in judgement. It would be hard to recover from such an indiscretion, if other people didn’t let us forget about it. It’s pretty awesome that God didn’t judge Abraham for his lack of faith in him or hold his falling down in laughter against him. And Jesus had compassion on the man whose leprosy deformed what he really looked like too. Jesus had such a beautiful ability to look right through people sometimes and see who they really were inside, even with layers of disease or sins that blocked other people’s view of the dignity of that person.
Both of the readings today are about miracles though. It was a miracle that Sarah had a baby at ninety years old and it was a miracle that the leper’s skin was restored to normal skin. These miracles were not performed just for the person who received them though. Sarah’s baby called attention to the people in their time, of the reality of God’s true presence among them. And when Jesus healed the leper, the people would recognize the presence of God among them too, especially the priest that was to be a witness to this miracle.
Maybe what we could learn from both of the readings today is that our lives can be healed. Not just our bodies, but our lives can be healed too. Not everyone has a perfect life. Many of us wish things could be better in our lives. But the readings today are about more than wishful thinking. Abraham and Sarah wished for a baby for many years and the leper wished he could be normal again as well. We should pay attention to this. It isn’t necessarily a bad thing to have wishful thinking, if we take it to the Lord in prayer and trust Him, like the leper did. Or at least don’t fall down on our face laughing, that it is preposterous to think that God could solve such a serious situation! God can do anything he wants to do and if we trust Him, the results might surprise us too.
Today is a good day to quit wishing for something and start asking for it. We pray for everyone else in the world, why not ask God in our prayers today to heal a deep hurt in our lives? Or heal a situation that we just can’t seem to do on our own? Maybe ask for something we would really like to have, but didn’t think the good Lord would grant us. The leper in today’s gospel has the right idea, when he simply knelt before the Lord, asked him to heal him and then trusted that he could. Who could resist such humility? Christ in his infinite compassion couldn’t ignore his request, and perhaps he will not ignore ours as well. There’s hope at the end of the tunnel if we look ahead and trust in the Lord.