In the Gospel for this Sunday, Jesus meets a person who has leprosy. This means he has an awful skin condition that is very contagious. If anyone gets too close, they will get leprosy, too. But the man with the contagious disease comes very close to Jesus.
A leper came to Jesus begging him, and kneeling he said to him, “If you choose, you can make me clean.”
What is going on here? People with leprosy are made to leave their homes and live outside of town away from everyone else. If they ever come anywhere near other people, they have to cover their mouths and cry out, "unclean, unclean!" This is because people are afraid that they will get leprosy, too, that they will be made unclean. But in the Gospel reading, we do not hear the man crying out, "unclean, unclean!" Is he not afraid that he will give Jesus his disease? Is he not afraid that Jesus will be disgusted by him? He does not seem to worry about this at all. What does he know about Jesus, then?
The man kneels in front of Jesus. What does that mean? Whom do we kneel in front of? The man knows something about who Jesus is. And then he says, "If you choose..." The man knows that if Jesus' chooses, it will be done. The man means, "if it is your will." He means, "Your will be done."
And what does Jesus do?
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.
Jesus chooses to touch him. Jesus cannot be made unclean by him.
Jesus chooses to make the man clean. Immediately.
Jesus chooses him.
It is his will that the man be made clean. And so, the man is clean.
What do we not see? We do not see Jesus wrinkle his nose and say, "Ew." We do not see Jesus back away. We do not see Jesus hesitate and think it over.
We see Jesus choose, right away, to touch the man. There is nothing the man can do to make Jesus unclean.
We see Jesus choose, right away, to make the man clean. There is nothing the man can do to make Jesus not want to bring him back home.
This is the way of Jesus, isn't it? Over and over we hear in the Gospels about people who are unclean--usually sinners--who come near to Jesus. Jesus is never disgusted--not by leprosy, not by sinners. Jesus never backs away. Jesus never hesitates, because there is nothing they can do to make Jesus unclean, there is nothing they can do to make Jesus not want to bring them back home.
Jesus shows us the way of God. Is there ever anything we can do that can make us so unclean, that we could make God unclean? Can we ever be so bad that God will not want to bring us back home?
No matter what, God is never disgusted by us.
No matter what, God never backs away.
No matter what, God never hesitates.
God is just waiting...
...for us to say, “If you choose, you can make me clean.”
So that God can say, "Of course, I choose you!