|Friends, our Gospel for today has to do with Jesus’ healing a leper. There aren’t that many lepers around today, but there are plenty of people that we treat as outsiders or pariahs. Like Jesus, we should be welcoming to them. Now I have nothing particularly against that way of reading the situation, but I suspect that we’ve all heard it a thousand times.
Let me propose a symbolic reading a little different from the customary one. I propose that the leper here stands, not so much for the socially ostracized, but for the one who has wandered away from right worship, the one who is no longer able or willing to worship the true God. That’s why Jesus tells the man to “go show yourself to the priest.” In other words, go back to the Temple from which you’ve been away for so long.
What is so important about worship? To worship is to order the whole of one’s life toward the living God, and, in doing so, to become interiorly and exteriorly rightly ordered. To worship is to signal to oneself what one’s life is finally about. It’s nothing that God needs, but it is very much something that we need.