Today’s gospel is Luke’s version of Jesus curing a leper (LK 5:12-16). The language of the request/answer seems rather stilted to me (L. “Lord, if you wish, you can make me clean.” J. “I do will it. Be clean.”) I’m not sure where I once read a translation that had it more colloquial, but more like the Jesus I envision. Not a huge difference but listen to the shift in feeling: L. “If you want to, you can make me clean.” J. Of course I want to, be clean!” It certainly helped me to think that Jesus put a lot of energy and welcome into his ministry.
That’s a bit of a sideline to my point this morning but does have something to do with it. There’s a lot going on in this section of chapter 5, actually just in the last verse after all is completed with the former leper. As one might imagine after such a healing, “word spread about Jesus all the more and great crowds assembled to listen to him and to be cured of their ailments.” It’s the line after that, the last one in the section, that speaks loudest to me. It says that in the midst these days of such intense activity somehow Jesus would escape and “withdraw to deserted places to pray.” That’s probably the only reason he could keep up the pace. More importantly it’s how he kept his relationship with God intact. Sometimes some of us are up before dawn, out the door without breakfast, on the road to work while listening to the news and moving from activity to activity until way past sunset and dinner, falling into bed exhausted. I suppose that can’t be helped in some cases – or, for some, in most cases. So how can we find a deserted place to which we might flee in the midst of those days? I’m thinking that coming awake to the fact that even our breath can be an internal “deserted place” when we need to withdraw and remember God is the best idea.
Today is not as frenetic for me as the day described above. I have two appointments this morning, one this afternoon and a few errands in between, but I think as I move about I’ll try the tactic of breathing in God to make the world go away and steady myself for the next thing – to restore my balance and remember why I do what I do.