O Lord, open our lips
and our mouth shall proclaim your praise.
at the Jordan you revealed Jesus as your Son:
may we recognize him as our Lord
and know ourselves to be your beloved children;
through Jesus Christ our Saviour.
Psalm 44.10-15, 24-25
But now you have rejected us and brought us to shame,
and go not out with our armies.
You have made us turn our backs on our enemies,
and our enemies have despoiled us.
You have made us like sheep to be slaughtered,
and have scattered us among the nations.
You have sold your people for a pittance
and made no profit on their sale.
You have made us the taunt of our neighbours,
the scorn and derision of those that are round about us.
You have made us a byword among the nations;
among the peoples they wag their heads.
Rise up! Why sleep, O Lord?
Awake, and do not reject us for ever.
Why do you hide your face
and forget our grief and oppression?
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.
A leper came to Jesus begging him, and kneeling he said to him, ‘If you choose, you can make me clean.’ 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. After sternly warning him he sent him away at once, saying to him, ‘See that you say nothing to anyone; but go, show yourself to the priest, and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.’ But he went out and began to proclaim it freely, and to spread the word, so that Jesus could no longer go into a town openly, but stayed out in the country; and people came to him from every quarter.
Can you keep a secret? When you are entrusted with some exciting news, or some snippet of salacious gossip, are you able to keep it to yourself, or are you one of those who cannot resist the temptation to share your knowledge with others?
Many of the secrets that are shared with us, or the ‘juicy’ gossip we pick up in our daily lives, should not be shared. To spread such information is to betray a trust with which we have been invested. The betraying of a bond of secrecy, or the dissemination of rumour and speculation, is to cause harm, pain and upset. It is an unnecessary betrayal of those whom we are called to love, just as Jesus loved us. We know this to be true, and yet we go on betraying and hurting through our propensity to gossip and share in the tittle-tattle culture of daily life.
These comments revolve around our ‘need’ to appear more knowledgeable, more ‘powerful’, than others. However, in today’s reading we encounter a different level of discretion being imposed by Jesus himself. Several times in the gospel narrative Jesus tells those whom he has healed to say nothing to anyone. This may seem strange, but as we read today, it is a vehicle by which Jesus is able to carry on ministering to those in need. As the leper is healed and is unable to contain his joy, as he began to proclaim it freely, he put Jesus in a position where he was forced to withdraw to a quieter, more secluded place. The ignoring of Jesus’ injunction to remain silent hindered the mission of the Son of God.
Our human propensity to share the ‘latest news’ can be just as damaging. Of course, as disciples and apostles of Christ, we are called to share the Good News of our loving God with everyone, but we are called to share the reality and the totality of that Good News. We are not called to treat it like a nugget of gossip, as we pare it down to the bits that excite us, and that make us sound as though we have a level of knowledge that makes us superior to others.
Everything about the life and ministry of Jesus is exciting and needs to be shared. It is our duty and our responsibility, as faithful Christians, to be evangelists and prophets. It is neither our duty, nor our responsibility, to remould the Good News through our allegiance to a particular churchmanship, or a hidden personal agenda. The Good News of Jesus Christ is not meant to be used for our glorification, but to the honour and glory of God alone.
Let us pray that we might hear and receive the Good News, and let us pray that we might share that Good News, without embellishment, in order that others might be excited and inspired in their faith.
Prayers of intercession
Let us pray to God, who rejects none who come to him in faith.
Grant that we who confess the faith of Christ may run the race that is set before us, looking for no reward but that of doing your will. Give us discernment to see you in the little things as well as in the great, and to obey whatever you may command.
Break the pride of human power that will not accept the simplicity of divine truth. Show the way to those who walk through the world without direction or purpose.
In your compassion, give wholeness and strength to us, to our families and friends and neighbours. Teach us to live with joy in the pleasures which you grant us but never to let them come between ourselves and our calling in you.
We pray for all who suffer from diseases that bring scorn and rejection as well as bodily suffering. Bless and guide those who seek cures for what has seemed incurable. Give patience and love to those who care for the chronically ill.
Have mercy on those who died as outcasts because their sickness was judged harshly by those around them. Make them whole in your presence, restored by the love that they could not find in this world.
We pray that our unworthiness may be made worthy by the healing power of Christ.
Prayer for the week
Loving Father, we pray for all
who are any way troubled at this time.
Give relief to those in pain,
friendship to those who are alone,
reassurance to those in doubt or distress of mind;
and may our love be so strong that seeing need
we may never pass by on the other side.
We make our prayer in the name of Jesus Christ,
our loving Lord and Saviour.
The Lord’s Prayer
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.