Beggers Can’t Be Choosers: Mark 1:40-45


A leper came to him (and kneeling down) begged him and said, “If you wish, you can make me clean.” Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand, touched him, and said to him, “I do will it. Be made clean.” The leprosy left him immediately, and he was made clean. Then, warning him sternly, he dismissed him at once. Then he said to him, “See that you tell no one anything, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer for your cleansing what Moses prescribed; that will be proof for them.” The man went away and began to publicize the whole matter. He spread the report abroad so that it was impossible for Jesus to enter a town openly. He remained outside in deserted places, and people kept coming to him from everywhere.

What a perfect picture; not only of Jesus’ compassion [pity] on this man with leprosy, but the picture of conversion and salvation as well.

The leper certainly knew his position, didn’t he? I mean as a leper, he was banished from the community. He was to have no contact with the outside world. But he was desperate! He had heard of this Jesus of Nazareth, who could heal the sick and cast out demons, but if he was to see Him and be healed himself he had to break the law. Maybe even being rebuked by Jesus Himself for doing so.

Likewise, our sins have banished us from God’s community and like this leper we need to decide whether or not we will run the risk of being ostracized by society to seek God. In this day and age of “political correctness” we certainly run that risk.

So, understanding his position, and the power Jesus has, he humbles himself as he comes begging and kneeling before the Lord. There was no pride within his heart, his unworthiness shown through as he utters the words, If you wish, you can make me clean.

Just as in the process of salvation, we see that the heart must be ready for the healing [cleansing] and we must come to Jesus ourselves, in humility and repentance. Jesus was in the area this man lived in, but the man came to Jesus in humility, realizing there was nothing he could do about his own condition. Even with his own effort to make that journey, there was no presumption that Jesus would heal him saying, If you wish

If we seek after Jesus with the attitude of humility, His response will surely be I do choose. As He says in St. John’s gospel chapter six, verse thirty-seven, ….anyone who comes to me I will never drive away… This grace [pity] that is offered, is available to all. This Greek work translated for pity, is the word splanchnizomai  which describes a pity so great that one is moved to meet another’s need. Another wonderful picture of God’s grace! Though this gift of grace is offered to all, it must be received; for a gift that is given but not received is useless.

Now, here is where our response to the Savior is crucial. Will we obey what Jesus says [in Sacred Scripture, through Church teaching] or will we do what “we” think we should do? Let’s take a look at the leper’s actions after his healing; Then he said to him, “See that you tell no one anything, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer for your cleansing what Moses prescribed; that will be proof for them.” The man went away and began to publicize the whole matter. He spread the report abroad so that it was impossible for Jesus to enter a town openly. He remained outside in deserted places

We see Jesus give the command to this newly healed man and what does he do? He does the opposite thing! Now I’ve heard “preachers” [this term is being used loosely here] use this verse as some sort of, “He was so full of the Holy Spirit, He had to tell the whole world what Jesus had done for him!” The only problem with that theory is that it contradicts the Trinity! The Holy Spirit will never, ever  lead us to disobey what Jesus commands us to do! We are called to obey when we are cleansed by Him. Again St. John’s gospel in chapters fourteen and fifteen clearly state how important obedience is for us to “remain” in Him.

Now, I’m not judging the heart of this leper, only God can do that, but I must look at the fruit of his action to see what it produced. His disobedience hindered Jesus’ work. Look again, it was impossible for Jesus to enter a town openly. He remained outside in deserted places… How many people in the other towns were effected by the [former] lepers disobedience? Maybe some of the other sick, lame, blind and/or demon possessed couldn’t make it to the deserted places. Maybe they were waiting for Jesus to come to their area. It’s sad to think about, but we must never forget that our actions always effect others! For their good or for their detriment. This is why obedience is so important to God. Not only does it rupture our relationship with Him, it ruptures our relationships with one another. Remember, “No man is an island.”

So this week let us remember our brother and sisters in “other towns” and how our actions will effect them. Will we have a positive or negative impact on their lives? In obedience to Christ we are to pray for others, ask forgiveness of others and to help them meet their needs. How are we at doing this? I’m sure we can all do better!

Amen.

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2 Responses

  1. Good point about the disobedience of the leper, and how God doesn’t contradict Himself. That is interesting how some preachers twist that verse making the leper appear admirable. In this time of moral relativism, obedience to what is objectively true has gone out the window and has been replaced by following one’s personal feelings and opinions.

    Hence, we have preachers who overlook the leper’s disobedience and extol how supposedly “filled with the Spirit” he appears to have been. The harmful hidden lesson there is that it doesn’t matter what Jesus commands, do what makes you feel good.

  2. Thank you, Rebecca for the comment and the visit.
    Moral relativism….that just about say’s it all.

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