The Good News for the Day, June 30, 2017
Friday of the Twelfth Week of Ordinary Time (354)
When Jesus came down from the high place where he gave his talk, great numbers of the public started following him. A man with leprous skin approached, got down in front of him, and said, “Sir, if you want to, you can make me whole.” Jesus stretched out his hand, touched the man, and said, “I will do it. Be made clean.” His skin condition was cleansed right away. Then Jesus said to him, “Make sure not to tell anyone, but go show yourself to the priest, and offer the gift Moses prescribed. That will be evidence for them.” (Matthew 8)
This story has contradictions—Jesus has great followers, cures a leper (apparently in public) and tells him not to tell anyone! Jesus breaks the “law” of ritual purity by touching the man—and then sends him off to the priests in obedience to the same “law.” Clearly the good news here is for our inspiration and not to record a random miracle.
What is the Good News here? Perhaps it is too casual to describe it as saying here: “There’s a new sheriff in town.” Jesus accepts the law of his Tradition—but He is also free of it. He has come not to destroy tradition, but to fulfill it. Yes, an expert (a priest in this case) has to discern the prognosis of life and death—that was the task of the Israelite priest—but Jesus is not afraid of “life or death”—he touches the leper.
“Tell no one”—because that is how the Child of God does things—not ostentatiously or posturing, not flag-waving miracles and seeking attention—but getting the job done—done humbly, quietly, without fanfare or ego. The solid foundation of goodness is the Will of our Father—not seeking popularity or fame. You are Well Off—blessed—if you work to heal those around you with caring diligence, with responsive actions that disregard laws that have no power over you. The story is about the Sermon on the Mount—the actions of a Child of God fulfilling the Greater Law.