2 Kgs 25:1-12; Ps137:1-6; Mt 8:1-4
Sometimes all we can do is sit and weep. Sometimes our sadness is so profound that we cannot pray; all we can do is sit and weep. Such is the sadness of King David and of all who loved Zion, in exile they remembered and wept. In their captivity they were teased and forced to sing the songs of the LORD. Indeed, their silence was their only power to resist. There only form of rebellion with the refusal to sing, as if they were not captives. How could they be happy in exile? How could they rejoice in their captivity? Indeed, forgetting Jerusalem was more painful than loosing their right hand. Forgetting the temple of the LORD was more tragic than having their tongue cleave to the palate. After their sadness had passed, even the exiles could sing. Just as the African slaves sang in their forced labor to remember their homeland and keep alive their hope. Every exile sings, al least in his heart to remember and find refuge in the promise of past joys. Those left on the land of Judah did revolt and the consequence was the utter destruction of all that was left, so that there was nothing to return to, only ruined houses and shattered dreams. Now, all the exiles had left was the Word of the LORD. Even the hopeless leper had only the Word of the Lord Jesus. Indeed, that word was all he needed. Such a word is what all of us need to be healed.
Our first reading seems to be the final and definitive victory of the Chaldeans over the already defeated and depleted Judah. The King left in Jerusalem to take care of the poor rebelled against the so-called king of kings. This resistance to tyranny was futile. It only resulted in the death of the king’s sons before his very eyes. After this King Zedekiah was blinded so that his last memory would be nothing but torment, and he was deported to Babylon. Then the new tyrant burned the house of the LORD, the palace of the king and the houses of Jerusalem. At last, all who were left behind were a few vinedressers and farmers, no threat at all. Now, the exile was complete. Now, there was no reason to resist or return to the Promised Land, or so it seemed. The exiles kept alive the hope of return and the promise of God to give his people freedom and security. This was all they had, and all they needed. Their generations of exile deepened their faith and sharpened their memory of the LORD and his faithfulness. Exile and defeat is not the final word in the history of God’s People. The LORD is kind and merciful, slow to anger and rich in blessing. Indeed, the LORD wants to bless us more than use us to prove his power and glory. Indeed, the LORD can only use us when we have been fully blessed by the LORD. It is his blessing that proves glory, not our response to that blessing.
The Lord Jesus came down from the Mount of Transfiguration with his friends. In the valley the Lord Jesus met a great crowd that followed him. Out of this crowd came a leper to do him homage and say, “Lord, if you wish, you can make me clean.” In this plea the Lord must have heard the total rejection and self-loathing of this leper. He had completely taken on the judgment of his contemporaries. They believed that his disease was a punishment for his sin. They believed that God had rejected him, and they rejected him. After all, why show kindness or mercy to someone the LORD had condemned? Without hesitation the Lord Jesus revealed the truth; he touched him and healed him. Such a demonstration was a threat to the whole society and certainly to the leaders who were using their authority to keep control over the crowds of unlearned and powerless. The Lord Jesus reveals the truth of the Father’s compassion and love for the sick and sinners alike. In sending him to the priest and offering the gift Moses prescribes the leper regained his place in society. In commanding him to tell no one the Lord Jesus proves that he is more interested in blessing us than in using us to prove himself. The Lord Jesus does not use us, or our need for him, to prove anything. This is the kind and merciful Lord for whom we seek. This is the kind and merciful Lord who seeks to touch and heal us at every moment, even when we do not think we are worthy of his slightest attention. What matters to the LORD is not our worthiness. What matters to the LORD is that he is faithful.