Somedays I’m 100% on board with God’s plan to bring us all into communion. And then there are the other days. Those are the times that I question whether God is much smarter than the person who invented the college dormitory (seriously who thought that was a good idea? Giving young people an overdose of freedom while supervised by their peers. Yikes!). The worst rough days are when I hear phrases like “He was just trying to help.” That phrase is uttered when he not only failed, he actually hindered everything I wanted to do. And the worst part is that he didn’t mean it. It is precisely the well intentioned bumble that Jesus was trying to prevent in today’s Gospel.
See Jesus knew that no matter where he went or what he did, the mobile, stable, and acceptable people of his society would always be able to come to Him. However, the farmer who couldn’t leave his crops, the widow with no money, or the leper would not have the same luxury. Jesus knew that, just as He did in the incarnation, He would have to make the first move. This is why Jesus tells the healed leper not to tell anyone. I have always struggled to explain the secrecy until I read the lines like this “Then he said to him, ‘See that you tell no one anything, … The man went away and… He spread the report abroad so that it was impossible for Jesus to enter a town openly. He remained outside in deserted places…’” Do you see the connection?
The healed leper was trying to help people know about Jesus. However, rising popularity created a barrier between Jesus and the lowly. The ones who needed the Lord most couldn’t be found in a crowd, nor could they travel to the remotest areas, nor could they afford to search out Jesus on the road. Jesus wished to retain anonymity to serve the unknown. He didn’t want people to come to Him so he could go to the immobile. He did not want to be idolized so that He could reach the demonized. Then He healed a leper, who just tried to help.
And then here we are, you and me. How often am I that leper? How often do I try to help and just make Jesus less accessible? Have I told a miracle story to someone whose loved one has died recently? Do I talk big about expensive retreats and trips as if you can’t encounter God without disposable income? Does my testimony make it sound like God made an exception in His mercy toward me instead of it being available to all? In my attempts to help, do I hinder?