O Lord, open our lips
and our mouth shall proclaim your praise.
God our saviour,
look on this wounded world
in pity and in power;
hold us fast to your promises of peace
won for us by your Son,
our Saviour Jesus Christ.
Blessed are all those who fear the Lord,
and walk in his ways.
You shall eat the fruit of the toil of your hands;
it shall go well with you, and happy shall you be.
Your wife within your house shall be like a fruitful vine;
your children round your table, like fresh olive branches.
Thus shall the one be blest
who fears the Lord.
The Lord from out of Zion bless you,
that you may see Jerusalem in prosperity all the days of your life.
May you see your children’s children,
and may there be peace upon Israel.
Glory to the Father and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit;
as it was in the beginning, is now
and shall be for ever. Amen.
When Jesus had come down from the mountain, great crowds followed him; and there was a leper who came to him and knelt before him, saying, ‘Lord, if you choose, you can make me clean.’ He stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, ‘I do choose. Be made clean!’ Immediately his leprosy was cleansed. Then Jesus said to him, ‘See that you say nothing to anyone; but go, show yourself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.’
Yesterday we heard of Zechariah’s first words following the birth of John the Baptist, and the restoration of his power of speech. Today we hear Jesus saying to the leper whom he had cleansed: See that you say nothing to anyone. Two very different responses to God’s presence in the lives of ordinary people.
In today’s reading we hear of someone suffering from leprosy who comes to Jesus for healing. Leprosy is a general term that is used in scripture to describe a wide range of debilitating and life-restricting medical conditions. To be identified as a leper was not only the confirmation that one was suffering from an incurable disease, but also that you were condemned to a life outside normal society. To suffer from leprosy was to be identified as being unclean and untouchable. The sufferer from leprosy in today’s story took a bold step, a step that demanded both determination and faith.
Jesus quickly became well-known for his power to heal the sick. We should not be surprised, therefore, that the leper in today’s reading felt confident that Jesus was the one and only chance for his condition to be cured. However, there was no demand for healing, instead there was an affirmation of faith. It was in answer to this depth of faith that Jesus bestowed the life-changing cure that saw the end of that life-inhibiting condition.
What must that leper have felt like? Imagine yourself into that man’s position. In a moment you are cured, the disease is defeated and you can resume your place in normal society. Wouldn’t you want to shout that from the rooftops? But, Jesus says, ‘No.’ Rather than shouting for joy, the leper is sent to fulfil the appropriate religious ceremonies and to give thanks to God for his cure.
There were so many ‘false prophets’ who pretended to be messiahs, holy teachers and miracle workers in Jesus’ time and place. But, Jesus was different. Jesus was the genuine article. Jesus really was the Messiah, the Holy Son of God, the miracle worker who could change lives. As we are able to look back and differentiate between the two, in his time Jesus was keen for his contemporaries to be similarly discriminating. It would have been easy for the healed leper to forget his religious duty if he began his renewed life by feeding the rumour mill of the day. Instead, Jesus told him to say nothing but to fulfil all that was required in the law of Moses.
Let us pray that we might not be diverted by the superficial and the unreal. Let us pray that we might place our thanks and praise of God before all else in our lives. Let us pray that we might root our telling of the Good News in the reality of Jesus’ presence in our lives.
Prayers of intercession
For the cleansing of all that is unclean in the Church and in the world, let us pray to the Lord.
Give to all Christian people the wisdom that discerns when to speak out and when to be silent; when to be active and when to be still. Fill us with the divine compassion which offers healing and salvation.
Have mercy on the outcasts of the world, the refugees and the homeless, those who are shunned for their race or their faith. Change the hearts of the oppressors and persecutors, that all people may value one another as children of God.
Give grace to us, our families and friends, to hear the calls of distress and seek to help. Guide the members of our community who work for the relief of those in need.
We pray for the sick, especially those whose affliction makes them shunned and despised. We pray for doctors and nurses working with difficult and prolonged cases.
Receive in mercy the souls of the departed, that healed from all the pain and trouble of this world, and cleansed from all their sins, they may rejoice in the company of the saints and the presence of the Lord. Grant to us at our end the blessing of eternal life.
May our prayers be accepted in the name of Christ whose compassion never fails.
Prayer for the week
Lord of all,
inspired by your word and your love,
your apostles preached the good news to all people.
Strengthen us to be apostles in our own lives,
that through the goodness of our actions,
the thoughtfulness of our faith
and the quality of our common life,
many might come to know the joy of life with you,
in Jesus Christ our Lord.
The Lord’s Prayer
Let us pray with confidence as our Saviour has taught us
Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come;
thy will be done;
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
for ever and ever. Amen.
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,
and the love of God,
and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit,
be with us all evermore. Amen.