Every once in awhile we find someone in the Scriptures who isn’t afraid to take a risk in his/her approach to Jesus. The leper in today’s gospel is such a person. Upon seeing Jesus “in one of the towns where Jesus was,” this man took the dramatic step of prostrating himself before Jesus saying, “If you want to, you can make me clean.”
I have this image of the encounter. Jesus is either chatting with someone on a street corner or shopping for something that he or someone else needed. There is no crowd around; it’s early in the gospel of Luke (5:12-16) and the man was able to go right up to where Jesus was and, recognizing him somehow, declare his request without hesitation. Whether Jesus was taken aback or happy that the person in front of him was so direct and sure of him, his answer was just as straightforward. “Of course I want to (my favorite translation says), be clean!” And so it happened. Jesus stretched out his hand, touched the man and the leprosy left him immediately – just like that!
When I am feeling timid about the reasonableness of my prayers, I would do well to remember this man and summon up the courage of my convictions, remembering God’s willingness to hear me and help me. Confidence will win every time!