Today’s readings can be found here. Read Fr. Epicoco’s brief reflections on the daily Mass readings, Monday through Saturday, here. For Sunday Mass reading commentary from Fr. Rytel-Andrianik, see here.
I am always moved by this brief, intense dialogue:
“A leper came to him begging him, and kneeling he said to him, ‘If you choose, you can make me clean.’ Moved with pity, Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, and said to him, ‘I do choose. Be made clean!’ Immediately the leprosy left him, and he was made clean.”
“If you choose, you can” is a beautiful short prayer that we can use in our daily lives. This leper’s prayer is undemanding. It is the prayer of those who entrust themselves to God’s will, knowing God can do anything.
Moved by the faith of this suffering man, Jesus does not only heal him: he touches him – a forbidden, dangerous gesture given the high risk of contagion. But Jesus knows that there are moments in life when words are not enough. Sometimes we need a hug more than just an “I love you.”
Faith does not explain pain away. It is, instead, the experience of the real presence of Jesus in that very pain. This man finds himself healed but, above all, he feels loved by someone who loved him before he was healed – while he was still a leper.
Even more, this love is what causes his healing. Whereas according to the world’s logic we need to deserve things, the Gospel tells us that Jesus’ love is not a matter of merits but of acceptance. God’s mercy is for everyone, without any conditions except one: You must be willing to accept it.
In fact, we do not need to convince God to love us. We need to convince ourselves to receive this love openly.
Father Luigi Maria Epicoco is a priest of the Aquila Diocese and teaches Philosophy at the Pontifical Lateran University and at the ISSR ‘Fides et ratio,’ Aquila. He dedicates himself to preaching, especially for the formation of laity and religious, giving conferences, retreats and days of recollection. He has authored numerous books and articles. Since 2021, he has served as the Ecclesiastical Assistant in the Vatican Dicastery for Communication and columnist for the Vatican’s daily newspaper L’Osservatore Romano.