Rejection is the refusal to accept someone. It is when someone suffers discrimination from people who suppose to welcome Him. Many of us suffer rejection at the hands of many people who are very close to us.
Sometimes, they treat us as if we are nothing. The reason could be that we are not yet to their level or that we do not have anything.
Also, many sick people suffer rejection. Some people discriminate against them due to the fear of contracting the ailment. This is actually, the problem of the leper today.
Jesus’ encounter today with the leper today, shows that Jesus does not reject the rejected. When others reject you, Jesus is always there for you.
In today’s Epiphany, the church reveals other qualities of Jesus as a great healer, one who welcomes us when others reject us, one who is willing to accept us as we are.
He welcomes the abandoned, the forsaken, the sinner etc, to make them clean.
Therefore, Jesus does not reject the rejected. When other helpers fail, let us always remember that we have someone willing to accept us as we are.
Jesus is willing to accept your weakness and make you clean again. He is willing to welcome us as we are and make us whole again. Jesus does not reject anyone.
Jesus and the Leper.
When Jesus was in one of the towns, a man who is covered with leprosy approaches Jesus. Immediately He sees Jesus, He falls on his face and begs him. ‘Sir, ‘if you want to, you can cure me.
He gives Jesus options to heal or not to heal. He gives options to accept Him or not to accept Him. Therefore, the point here is that Jesus cannot choose not to heal. He is always ready to heal and save.
So, immediately, Jesus stretches out his hand, touches him and says to Him, ‘Of course I want to! Be healed!’
The leprosy left him immediately. Jesus orders him to tell no one, but to go and show himself to the priest to make the offering for his healing as Moses prescribes it, which serves as an evidence for them.
In Jewish culture, leprosy was interpreted as a physical affliction sometimes caused by sickness or moral transgression. When someone contracts such kind of sickness, they attribute it to either sickness or the sinful past of the person.
For example, we read in Numbers 12 that Moses‘ sister, Miriam, suffered this terrible disease as a consequence of her malicious speech.
Then the Torah teaches that during the early stages of what seemed to be a serious skin affliction, a sick person would stand before a Kohen (priest), who would diagnose the illness.
If it was determined that the person was a leper, he or she would be expelled from the community for the duration of the recovery process.
He will be treated as an outcast, example are the four “lepers” forced to live outside Samaria (II Kings 7:3–10) and King Uzziah, who was permanently quarantined in separate quarters (II Chron. 26:19–21).
This explains what the man that met Jesus today in the gospel must be passing through. He was detached from the public, extricated from public and religious responsibilities, quarantined and forced to live in isolation. The man suffers great rejection from the people.
It is the priest who will rule on the purity or impurity of the sufferer. This is why Jesus tells the man to meet the priest who will ascertain Him whole again.
Always take the Bold and Faith Lifting Step.
First of all, instead of worrying and dying in isolation, this man takes a bold step to meet Jesus.
The leper would have also feared that Jesus would not welcome Him, since Jesus is also a jew. But the leper teaches us to always take bold and faith lifting steps if we need healing and total renewal in our lives.
We need to always take a bold step with faith because we know that Jesus does not reject anyone.
The Leper may have met challenges on the way. People may be running away from Him or chasing him away. Some others may be shouting unclean at the sight of Him etc. But the Leper withstands those challenges and focuses on Jesus.
Therefore, He teaches us again that when we encounter challenging circumstances that may try to pull us down or affect our faith, let us always focus on where we are going and not on the circumstances.
Let us focus on the goal, we want to achieve and not on the problems. Also, we have to focus on Jesus and what He can do despite anything.
The man does not fear whether Jesus is going to listen to Him or not, because Jesus is also a jew. His focus is simply to ask first.
Therefore, the leper teaches us again that when we go in the presence of God, let us not go before God with doubts. Let us always focus.
Jesus can never reject the Rejected.
Jesus is a jew and would have observed the religious demands by not having any conversation or contact with the leper. But Jesus knows that His aim is only to save lives.
Therefore, this is an epiphany about Jesus. Jesus does not reject the rejected. He does not reject anyone who truly comes to Him.
When others rejected the man, Jesus accepted Him. When others treated the man like an outcast, Jesus treated Him like the Human Being he is. Therefore, Jesus rejects no one. Jesus does not reject the rejected, rather he is willing to accept us again and again.
We are the people who have rejected Him and we are the people who think He has rejected us. Let us go to Him even in our uncleanliness. Let us stop doubting His love for us.
The truth about Him is that we cannot meet Him and remain the same once we allow Him to do His own thing according to His own will and the way He wants.
This is the prayer of the man with leprosy. He asks “if you will, make me clean”. This should be a model of prayer. We pray and allow God to do it in His own way.
May God through His power continually be with us even when others have given upon us. May He never allow you to be put to shame. Amen