LORD MAKE ME CLEAN
Punishment comes to the Jewish people for their persistent infidelity. Jerusalem is destroyed with its temple and the people sent into exile.
Immediately after the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew gives us a series of miracles of Jesus, the first of which is narrated in today’s gospel, the cure of the leper. Jesus had spoken with power, now he acts with power; Jesus had spoken of the law of love, now he himself puts it into practice in an act of compassionate, a help to an outcast. Note that in the Bible leprosy is closely linked to sin and like a physical sign of sin. Let us honour our Lord in his compassion and forgiveness.
Lord God, our Father,
your Son Jesus Christ revealed to us
your compassionate, healing love.
Let his presence here in our midst
fill us with his power of sharing
in the miseries of our neighbour.
Let our words be like balm
on open wounds in their hearts
and let our deeds bring healing
to all those around us.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.
1 Reading: 2 Kings 25:1-12
In the ninth year of Zedekiah’s reign, on the tenth day of the tenth month, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon marched against Jerusalem with his whole army. He encamped outside the city and built siege works all around it. The city was kept under siege until the eleventh year of King Zedekiah. By the ninth day of the fourth month the famine in the city had become so severe that there was no food for the people to eat. Then the city wall was broken through, and the whole army fled at night through the gate between the two walls near the king’s garden, though the Babylonians were surrounding the city. They fled toward the Arabah, but the Babylonia army pursued the king and overtook him in the plains of Jericho. All his soldiers were separated from him and scattered, and he was captured. He was taken to the king of Babylon at Riblah, where sentence was pronounced on him. They killed the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes. Then they put out his eyes, bound him with bronze shackles and took him to Babylon. On the seventh day of the fifth month, in the nineteenth year of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, Nebuzaradan commander of the imperial guard, an official of the king of Babylon, came to Jerusalem. He set fire to the temple of the Lord, the royal palace and all the houses of Jerusalem. Every important building he burned down. The whole Babylonian army under the commander of the imperial guard broke down the walls around Jerusalem. Nebuzaradan the commander of the guard carried into exile the people who remained in the city, along with the rest of the populace and those who had deserted to the king of Babylon. But the commander left behind some of the poorest people of the land to work the vineyards and fields.
Responsorial Psalm 137:1-2, 3-4, 5, 6
R. May my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth if I do not remember you.
By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept
when we remembered Zion.
There on the poplars
we hung our harps. R.
For there our captors asked us for songs,
our tormentors demanded songs of joy;
they said, “Sing us one of the songs of Zion!” R.
How can we sing the songs of the Lord
while in a foreign land?
If I forget you, Jerusalem,
may my right hand forget its skill. R.
May my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth
if I do not remember you
if I do not consider Jerusalem
my highest joy. R.
Alleluia John 14:23
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Whoever loves me will keep my word,
and my Father will love him
and we will come to him.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel Matthew 8:1-4
When Jesus came down from the mountain, great crowds followed him. And then a leper approached, did him homage, and said, “Lord, if you wish, you can make me clean.” He stretched out his hand, touched him, and said, “I will do it. Be made clean.” His leprosy was cleansed immediately. Then Jesus said to him, “See that you tell no one, but go show yourself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses prescribed; that will be proof for them.”
Only the poor were left behind in a torched and ravaged Jerusalem. The Babylonians had leveled the city, and the temple was destroyed. The Judean king’s son was murdered and the king himself was hauled off to Babylon, a captive.
Who were the poor of God who become such a privileged people in the scriptures? Originally it was a social category: the poor people of the land, with precious little of this world’s goods. Materially they may have suffered, but they were in the best position to be responsive to God. God alone was their true provider, and the recognition of this was at the heart of biblical spirituality.
As time went on, it was the spiritual qualities of the true anawim or ‘poor of God’ that were emphasized. The anawim lived with a true sense of dependence on God, one that went beyond social status and looked to basic dispositions of the heart. It could apply to anyone in society, although there was always the recognition that the socially deprived were in an ideal position to have the spirit of the anawim.
It is this spirit that characterizes the leper in today’s Gospel. He knows what Christ is capable of but prefaces his request with trust in the willingness of the Lord. “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
– With all who seek pardon and reconciliation, we cry out to you, Lord, and with all who have found and grant forgiveness, we thank you, Lord: Lord, hear our prayer.
– With all who are rejected by their communities, we cry out to you, Lord, and with all who accept people and restore their dignity, we praise you, Lord:
– With al who hide their suffering, we cry out to you, Lord, and with all who share with others and uplift them, we praise you, Lord:
Prayer over the Gifts
God our Father,
you are good to us.
With these gifts of bread and wine
we offer you the sacrifice of Jesus
that brought us your forgiveness.
Reconcile us with you and each other
and keep cleansing us from the leprosy
of pride and hard-heartedness
that mar in us the face
of Jesus Christ our Lord.
Prayer after Communion
God our Father,
your Son Jesus has spoken among us
his words and deeds of healing.
He has answered our plea
for forgiveness and fresh hope in life
with the gift of himself.
Make us too capable
of stretching out our hands
to those in sorrows and pain
and of touching them with our love.
And may our compassionate help
reach out most of all
to the outcasts of this cold world.
We ask this in the name of Jesus the Lord.
When we have sinned, we too should go to God and tell him: ‘Lord, you can clean me’, and he is very willing to do so, for he loves us and heals us repeatedly. May we also bring healing to the people around us, with the blessing of almighty God, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen!