Saturday, 10 January 2015

An Epiphany 'Yes!'

Rembrandt: Christ healing the leper

I'm still thinking about yesterday's Mass gospel. Here's part of it:

Once, when he was in one of the cities, there was a man covered with leprosy. When he saw Jesus, he bowed with his face to the ground and begged him, ‘Lord, if you choose, you can make me clean.’ Then Jesus stretched out his hand, touched him, and said, ‘I do choose. Be made clean.’ (Luke 5:12-13)

What does this have to do with Epiphany? It is, I think, the revelation of the desire of God - for our wholeness, our joy, and our acceptance of one another within the Body of Christ (note that the man who needed healing was a leper, the ultimate outcast of society. He was restored not just to health of body but to health within the Body). It is the Epiphany, the Theophany, of God's heart's desire for the fulfilment of our heart's desire: God's 'Yes!'

The leper asks tentatively ἐὰν θέλῃς... ἐὰν is stronger than simply if: we don't have an exact equivalent. That little αν at the end of the word gives it an air of doubt, of uncertainty: he's expecting a 'No'. Perhaps he's heard it many times before.

And Jesus replies Θέλω. It's stronger than the 'I choose' of the translation above. It means to wish, to desire, to be ready for action. I've seen it translated in this gospel passage as 'of course I want to!'

Are we ready for the Epiphany of God's 'Yes'? To have our habitual expectations of 'No' challenged? ('No' can be safer...) And, more to the point, are we ready to be the Epiphany of God's 'Yes' to the outcast, the other? 'No' can feel much safer here too.