To read the texts click on the texts: 2 Kings 25:1-12; Mt 8:1-4
We begin reading today in the liturgy and will continue for the whole of next week from Chapters 8 and 9 of the Gospel of Matthew. These Chapters contain what is known as the “Miracle Cycle” of Matthew, because in them we find ten miracles in series of three miracles each. The fact that the Miracle Cycle follows immediately after the Sermon on the Mount and both are framed by a summary statement in 4:23 and 9:35 is an indication that Matthew’s intention is to show through such a placement that Jesus is the Messiah in words (through the Sermon on the Mount) and deeds (through the Miracle Cycle).
The healing of a leper, which is our text for today, is also found in the Gospels of Mark and Luke, but where Mark narrates the emotional reactions of Jesus, Matthew and Luke omit them. The term leprosy was used for any kind of skin disease, and those with such kind of diseases were considered as unclean and not allowed to be part of society. They had to live on the outskirts of the city, and had to make their presence known whenever they entered the city, so that others could avoid any kind of contact with them and so not get contaminated.
The leper addresses Jesus as Lord, which is a title used only by believers in the Gospel of Matthew. In this miracle, Jesus not only heals the leper, but also reaches out and touches him. This probably means that Jesus cannot be contaminated or made unclean by anything from outside. It could also indicate Jesus’ wanting to reach out to the leper in a personal manner and treat him as a full human being.
The prayer of the leper is a lesson for each one of us on the meaning of prayer. In his prayer the leper both acknowledges his dependence on Jesus through the words, “If you will” and also has faith in the ability of Jesus to heal through the words, “you can make me clean”. Prayer means to acknowledge our dependence on God and also to have faith that God can do what to us may seem impossible.