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Sunday, June 24, 2012

The Cleansing of a Leper

Witness: Anya, a Jewish peasant woman of the time of Jesus

Story N. 7 (see previous posts)

Today, as always, a flock of followers has gathered around Jesus. It’s a hot sunny day, but inside the large stable a small crowd rests in the shadow. Thin rays of light filter through gaps in the ceiling. Crouched down on the floor made of beaten earth, people are listening attentively. Jesus is teaching them how to pray.
“When you pray,” he says, “do not be like the hypocrites, who love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that others may see them. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.”
People whisper to each other in amazement. Jesus is speaking against the teachers of the law! Anya grabs James’ arm.
“We are headed for trouble,” she tells him.
“I’m afraid this is only the beginning,” he answers.

“In praying,” Jesus goes on, “do not babble like the pagans, who think that they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them. Your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.”
Anya feels a pang of shame: She doubts Jesus’ words. Our Father knows what we need, she thinks, but will He deliver? So many people are desperately poor! They don’t know if they will have the means to survive the next day. But Jesus seems to read her thoughts
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth,” he says, “where moth and decay destroys, and thieves break in and steal. But store up treasures in heaven, for where your treasure is, there also your heart be. Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, and do not worry about tomorrow. Tomorrow will take care of itself. Sufficient for a day is its own evil.”

All of a sudden Jesus stands up and walks out of the stable. He looks up. The clouds are like snowy mountains in the sky. Birds fly from tree to tree. A hoopoe spreads his black and white wings before landing on a pink oleander. A red and yellow hummingbird flies in circle above a sweet- smelling eucalyptus. The world is opulent and Jesus radiates ardor and vitality. The crowd has left the stable and is following him on the dusty road. But not everyone can rejoice on that glorious day. A man, horribly disfigured by leprosy, is standing in a corner. Upon seeing Jesus he falls on his knees and pleads:
“Lord, if you wish you can make me clean.”
Moved, Jesus stops in front of him.
“Do you believe that I can do this?” he asks.
“I do.”
“Then let it be done, according to your faith“.
Jesus touches him and the man is immediately healed of his disease. Bewildered, he looks at his hands and skims them over his face. Crying with joy he says:
“Son of David, the entire world must know that you have cleansed me, for you are the Messiah!”
Jesus sternly orders him not to tell anyone, but from that moment on rumors about his healing power start spreading. More and more people will seek his help and will follow him wherever he goes. Anya will miss the privilege of being one of the few elected to share his life, but she doesn’t know it yet. I’m healed too, she thinks. I know the way, the truth and the life. I see them in Jesus’ eyes.