Luke 5:12-16 (New American Bible)
It happened that there was a man full of leprosy in one of the towns where Jesus was;
and when he saw Jesus,
he fell prostrate, pleaded with him, and said,
“Lord, if you wish, you can make me clean.”
Jesus stretched out his hand, touched him, and said,
“I do will it. Be made clean.”
And the leprosy left him immediately.
Then he ordered him not to tell anyone, but
“Go, show yourself to the priest and offer for your cleansing
what Moses prescribed; that will be proof for them.”
The report about him spread all the more,
and great crowds assembled to listen to him
and to be cured of their ailments,
but he would withdraw to deserted places to pray.
Luke 5:12-16 (My Paraphrase)
In one of the towns Jesus visited, there was a man consumed by leprosy, and upon seeing Jesus, the man fell face down on the ground and pleaded with him, “Lord, if you wish, you can heal me and make me clean.” Jesus stretched out his hand, touched the man, and said, “I do wish it. Be made clean.” Immediately the leprosy vanished.
Then Jesus ordered the man not to tell anyone what had happened. Jesus added, “Go, show yourself to the priest and, as Moses wrote in the law, make the appropriate offering for your cleansing. This will prove to them that you are now clean.”
But, in spite of this, the news about Jesus continued to spread. Great crowds of people came to listen to him and to be cured of their sicknesses and diseases. Jesus, however, would often withdraw into the wilderness to pray.
Luke 5:12-16 (My Reflection)
Two phrases from this reading strike me. The first is when Jesus says “I do wish it.” The second is at the end of these verses where the gospel writer reports: “Jesus, however, would withdraw into the wilderness to pray.”
The first passage tells me something about the nature of Jesus: that he was a person of great compassion. Many people are, of course, compassionate and giving. And I admire those who have such generous spirits. I wish, however, that I was less admiring and more possessing of their caring natures. While I am no Scrooge, I know that compassion is not my forte, that I am too selfish, and that I am often prone to overlook the ways I can be more loving towards others.
The second passage tells me that Jesus took care of his own physical, emotional ans spiritual needs. One cannot be “on” all the time. There is a pressing need to keep one’s batteries charged, if a man or woman is to be effective in ministry. Too many times I have forgotten this truth in my life and have found myself run down, burnt out, and more than mildly depressed.
What if I found my own wilderness or deserted places to retreat to on a regular basis. What if valued solitude and time spent with God as much as I value my time with friends or at work or leisure? Would I be a better pastor for it? Might that enable me to become more loving and caring as well?
Holy God, you have shown us your true nature in Jesus.
His compassion and care for even the “least of these” was evident throughout his life.
Help me to cultivate compassion in my dealings with others,
even those I do not like.
And when I, O Lord, find myself tired and worn from the activities of my life and ministry,
remind me that it is no sin to walk away for a time and seek your loving embrace,
for there I will be renewed and strengthened to do the work to which you have called me.
This I prayer in Jesus’ name. Amen.