Care for people who are sick was integral to the public ministry of the Lord. People think of Jesus as a teacher, and certainly texts like the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5 through 7) establish this well in our minds. At the end of this narrative, the evangelist gives witness: “… he taught them as one having authority, and not as their scribes.” (7:29)
What backs up a teacher as much as anything? A lived example of what is taught and preached:
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.”
The other synoptic gospels also report this miracle (Cf. Mk 1:40–44; Lk 5:12–14.) which has always intrigued me for the statement of the leper, ” … if you wish …” It’s a stance of faith which has been part of my reflection on many occasions, mostly not healing, but more in discernment.
As long as a believer isn’t too much focused on “if you wish” as a demand for something specific in body or mind, this is a lovely, succinct passage that invites good reflection.
For an in-depth treatment of the Pastoral Care rites, check this page that outlines our examination from a decade ago.