A leper came to Jesus and pleaded on his knees: ‘If you want to’ he said ‘you can cure me.’
We probably have never considered this, but the leper was also taking a risk. Under the law he was among the untouchables, the lowest level on the social ladder. By being where he was, he was risking stern rebuke on the part of the bystanders. He also risked disappointment. He was willing to risk all of this and threw himself on the mercy of Jesus. His faith is expressed in his words, “If you choose, you can make me clean.” This underscores his firm faith in Jesus. He was convinced that Jesus could restore him physically, spiritually, and socially.
Jesus also ran serious risks in this encounter. Jesus was always getting himself in trouble in his love and concern for others. He knew what he was doing was risky, but he never gave it a second thought because he was so preoccupied by the cry of human need. This is how Jesus always met men and women. He met them on the level of their need, regardless of who they were or what they had done.
The true church is not only the church of the ear where the gospel is rightly preached and heard. The church is not only the church of the eye where the sacraments are enacted for the faithful to see and experience. But the church is also the church of the outstretched helping hand.
There is a story about a statue of Christ in a church in Europe that was hit by a bomb during World War II. They dug up the statue and discovered that it was undamaged except for the hands that had been broken off. They hired a sculptor to replace the hands. Finally, they decided to leave it like it was as a reminder to the people that Christ has no hands but ours to do his work. “Jesus stretched out his hands and touched him.”