Support the Café

Search our Site

Speaking to the Soul: I Do Choose

Speaking to the Soul: I Do Choose

Week of 1 Lent, Year Two

[Go to Mission St Clare for an online version of the Daily Office including today’s scripture readings.]

Today’s Readings for the Daily Office:
Psalms 119:49-72 (morning) // 49, [53] (evening)

Genesis 37:25-36

1 Corinthians 2:1-13

Mark 1:29-45

On the one hand, today’s passage from the gospel resembles many other miraculous cures: a leper comes to Jesus and begs for healing, and at the command of Jesus (“Be made clean!”) the leprosy disappears. But on the other hand, what stands out to me from this story of healing and cleansing is not so much Jesus’s miraculous powers, but Jesus’s compassionate touch.

The “leper” in today’s gospel may have suffered more from social exclusion than from a clear medical condition. It is famously difficult to know what ancient authors really meant by “leprosy”. While today “leprosy” usually refers to a specific disease, in premodern times the condition included a range of symptoms and sicknesses. The historian R. I. Moore has pointed out that the subjective medieval criteria for diagnosing leprosy included things like being short-tempered, or butting into conversations. Thus, people could be diagnosed, segregated, and persecuted as “lepers” simply for not following social conventions.

The leper in today’s gospel approached Jesus from the margins of his community and said, “If you choose, you can make me clean.” The gospel tells us that Jesus was moved with pity, stretched out his hand, touched the man and said, “I do choose. Be made clean!” The compassion and physical touch of Jesus must have been deeply healing, humanizing, and cleansing in and of themselves for the leper who had been so thoroughly excluded from community and contact.

Jesus considers the leper worthy of compassion and worthy of touch. And Jesus tells the leper to show himself, clean and worthy, to the priest. How does the touch of Jesus heal and humanize us? And to whom should we reveal ourselves to be clean and worthy? When given the chance to make something clean and whole, Jesus says, “I do choose.”

Lora Walsh blogs about taking risks and seeking grace at A Daily Scandal. She serves as curate of Grace Episcopal Church in Siloam Springs and assists with education, young adult ministry, and campus ministry at St. Paul’s in Fayetteville, Arkansas.


Café Comments?

Our comment policy requires that you use your real first and last names and provide an email address (your email will not be published). Comments that use non-PG rated language, include personal attacks, that are not provable as fact or that we deem in any way to be counter to our mission of fostering respectful dialogue will not be posted.

Support the Café
Past Posts

The Episcopal Café seeks to be an independent voice, reporting and reflecting on the Episcopal Church and the Anglican tradition.  The Café is not a platform of advocacy, but it does aim to tell the story of the church from the perspective of Progressive Christianity.  Our collective sympathy, as the Café, lies with the project of widening the circle of inclusion within the church and empowering all the baptized for the role to which they have been called as followers of Christ.

The opinions expressed at the Café are those of individual contributors, and, unless otherwise noted, should not be interpreted as official statements of a parish, diocese or other organization. The art and articles that appear here remain the property of their creators.

All Content  © 2017 Episcopal Café