The story of Jesus healing the leper is another one of those stories of which we are very familiar and which we have heard over and over again. And as I have said before, this can be very dangerous. Why? Because we might have a tendency to consciously or subconsciously “tune it out” as soon as recognize it because, after all, it is a “rerun.” But in so doing we cheat ourselves of the blessings and benefits of the “always new” message of the scriptures and we eliminate another opportunity for the Lord to inspire us. So let’s go. Imagine the leper. Imagine the courage he must have had to leave his leper colony, the suffering he must have endured on the way, both physically and from every encounter with another human being he had to endure before he got to where Jesus was. Imagine also, his sense of desperation. Maybe we have felt something like that before; maybe we are feeling something like that right now. But desperation is not all bad. It might be sometimes just what we need to finally bring ourselves, like the leper to the feet of Christ, where he cried out, “If you wish, you can make me clean.” St. Mark says that Jesus was ‘moved with pity.” Now, I don’t know about you, but I don’t know of any other reality in the entire Gospel ever “moving” Jesus other than human suffering and His desire to heal it. Not war, not evil, not sin, or anything else causes Jesus to be moved-but human suffering does. We also need to understand that His desire to heal us goes much deeper than our own desire to be healed. I am sure that sometimes we have been to the doctor when we were in pain and so much wanted to be relieved of it. The doctor will do what he/she can and then tell us how we need to change our behavior so that we might not experience that pain again. At times like that we might realize that we actually are much more interested in getting rid of the pain than getting rid of some of our behaviors that might have led up to the pain. It is much the same with Jesus. He desired to heal not just the leper’s skin, but his heart and soul as well. Jesus does not only want to heal the pain that evil brings us, but the cause of that evil as well. But He will not take away our free will. We have to choose to bring ourselves to Him, despite all the very real obstacles in our way and cry out just as the leper did. And when we do, we will discover that Jesus’ desire to heal us is much more than skin deep.