Today’s gospel comes from the very end of Mark’s first chapter with Jesus’ first encounter with a leper (vv. 40-45). Mark wastes little time getting into Jesus’ healing ministry. In fact, we hear only one verse of preaching from Jesus before three pericopes of healing are presented.
The image that came to mind immediately at Mass was that of a trusting little child. The leper, who undoubtedly received a lot of scorn for daring to come close to Jesus (and everyone else), endured it all to just make his plea to Jesus. With total faith he makes no lengthy or eloquent speech. Rather, eight simple words (above) elicit an even shorter response and an immediate healing. And, like a youngster who is exuberant over a gift and can’t keep it a secret, he forthwith spreads the news even though the Lord told him not to say a word. I imagine Jesus was not very upset about it (there is no hint in the gospels that He was), even though it made His life more difficult; likely he just shook His head with a hint of a smile — how could He expect someone to stay quiet when He had just saved that person’s life and allowed him to integrate back into society? Elsewhere, Jesus says, “Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven” (Mt 18:3); maybe He was thinking of this man and others He had encountered, who, with the boldness that comes from an unwavering childlike trust, pressed upon Him for a need.
Was He thinking of you and me as well?