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.
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