Personal hygiene is big business. You pretty much need a doctorate in chemistry to get through the shampoo aisle. Companies inundate us with a multitude of products to wash and clean ourselves. Mothers will, until the end of time, have to repeatedly remind their young sons to wash their hands before dinner and brush their teeth before they go to bed.
(Fr. Gee is parochial vicar at Our Lady of Angels Parish, Woodbridge, Virginia. This article courtesy of the Arlington Catholic Herald.)
After all, dirt is dangerous, dirt kills. Cleanliness is next to godliness, or so the saying goes.
We should not be surprised then, when this happens in the Gospel: “A leper came to Jesus and kneeling down begged him and said, 'If you wish, you can make me clean.' Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand, touched him, and said to him, 'I do will it. Be made clean.' The leprosy left him immediately, and he was made clean.” It is odd, isn't it, that the world spends more time and money convincing people of the importance of personal physical cleanliness than on spiritual cleanliness?
First off, let's get this straight: if we had no need of spiritual washing, then Christ would not have offered a means to do so. That leper recognized that he needed healing and only one person was capable of eradicating the disease. We all sin, we all need to be cleansed of it. Simple and true. But, unfortunately, we forget or neglect or just cannot be bothered to do so as often as we ought. Add up the amount of time it takes to bathe, shave, brush teeth, wash hands, do the laundry, change the sheets, wash the car, mow the lawn, rake the leaves and do all the other chores around the house. How many take even a tenth of that time to make sure the soul gets equal treatment?
Really now, it would seem that if the eternal destination of the soul were truly the most important thing in life then people would dedicate the time to ensuring its purity. If only we were as punctilious in the care of our souls as we are in the care of our bodies.
Let the leper lead the way. Recognize the dirt. Desire the removal of the dirt. Approach the only one who can remove the dirt. Ask to have the dirt removed. Another way to say it: Make a good examination of conscience. Be sorry for your sin. Go to church. Enter the confessional and make a good confession.
The leper left with such joy that he told everyone what had been done to and for him, even against the wishes of Jesus to keep the whole thing quiet. He knew he was clean. He knew that Christ had done what no other could. And he rejoiced. Is there anything more refreshing in life that in having the soul cleansed? Nope. The massive infusion of grace that coincides with the forgiveness of sin cannot be replaced by anything or anyone else. It is a gift given to us from the Maker, a gift that promises a true wholesomeness, a true purity, and a joy that can be received nowhere else.