What a contrast of dispositions between the first reading and the Gospel! In the first reading, God has literally been put into a box and brought out as a weapon against the enemy. In the Gospel, a man suffering from a disfiguring and isolating skin disease kneels in total surrender to Jesus’ mercy. The first way ends in defeat, the second way leads to healing and life.

Sometimes I am tempted to wield God as a tool or weapon, and other times I am tempted to think I must heal myself before approaching God! It can seem like a battle. But Jesus’ way is not battle; it is healing and life!

May we never tire of approaching Jesus’ compassionate gaze in whatever way we can, saying “If you wish, you can make me clean.” Jesus’ answer is always, “I do will it. Be made clean.”

— Ryen Dwyer, S.J., a Chicago-Detroit province Jesuit scholastic, is currently studying philosophy at Loyola University Chicago.