Thursday of the first week in ordinary time

Hebrews 3:7-14; Psalm 94:6-11 (LXX); Mark 1:40-45

‘If you are willing, you can make me clean’ (Mk 1.40).

. . .

So says the leper, approaching Jesus. ‘If you are willing…’ His doubt is not about what Jesus can do. Although it is early in Mark’s gospel, this man seems to have discovered that Jesus is extraordinary. But he, like the Israelites in Hebrews 3 and Psalm 94, does not really know the Lord’s ways. ‘If you are willing’, he says; he sounds less than certain of that power being extended towards him.

Mark tells us that Jesus was moved with compassion. I remember very distinctly my first encounter with this passage, in my second year in college. The word that Mark uses describes Jesus’ compassion as something like a gut-reaction, deep and instinctive. This is the way of the Lord, to be moved with pity for those most in need of healing.

Hebrews 3 and Psalm 94 both refer to the people who do not know the Lord’s ways as stubborn, stiff-necked. My own heart more closely resembles the Israelites: I resist the Lord’s leading, because I have not yet truly learned his ways. Like the leper, I believe in the power of God’s healing. I have seen it in my own life and in the lives of others. But not for a while–and I find myself doubting not the power of God but the compassion of God. ‘Full of compassion and abounding in steadfast love’? I wonder: does that love extend into the darkness that surrounds me? Because I know that light cannot be extinguished by even my darkest darkness, and I cannot hide from it, however thickly I cover myself with fig leaves.

He can. But will he make me whole again? Is he willing? Seems I have a long way to go in learning the ways of the Lord.

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