Today’s ✠Challoner Meditation: December 4th on Our Lord’s cleansing the lepers

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✠Challoner Meditation 4th December, on Our Lord's cleansing the lepers



Consider first, that the cleansing the leprosy is one of those miracles of our Lord which is more particularly instructive, because the leprosy was an emblem or figure of sin. Hence we find so many prescriptions in the Levitical law, (Lev. xiii. and xiv.,) with regard to such as had contracted the leprosy; and the judgment that was to be made of them by the priest, to whose inspection they were committed by the law; and the rites and sacrifices by which they were to be cleansed; which were all figurative and expressive of what was to be done by, or for them, who had contracted the spiritual leprosy of sin. The first mentioned to have been cleansed by our Lord of his leprosy, was he that came (after our Saviour’s coming down from the mountain, Matt. viii. 2, 3) And worshipped him, saying: ‘Lord if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. And Jesus put forth his hand, and touched him, saying: I will: be thou made clean. And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.’ See Christians, by this example, in what manner you are to apply to your Lord, if you desire to be cleansed of your spiritual leprosy. See with what a strong and lively faith, accompanied with a profound humility, this leper presents himself before our Saviour; and learn to imitate him. Faith and humility are very efficacious with your heavenly physician. It was appointed, Levit. xiii. 44, &c., that whosoever was defiled with the leprosy, and separated by the judgment of the priest, should keep a respectful distance, with regard to the rest of the faithful; and should both by his outward habit, and by the cry of his voice, declare aloud, that he was defiled and unclean, to signify the humble dispositions which are necessary in the case of the spiritual leprosy before we can expect to meet with a cure.

Consider 2ndly, how our Lord having cleansed the leper, to teach us to avoid all ostentation and vain glory in doing good, said to him: ‘See thou tell no man: but go show thyself to the priest and offer the gift which Moses commanded, for a testimony to him.’ Our Lord sent those whom he cleansed from the leprosy to the priest, to conform to the prescription of the law of Moses; and at the same time, to give us to understand that even when, by the grace of a perfect contrition, he cleanses souls from the leprosy of sin, he still expects that they should show themselves to his priest, by a sincere confession of their sins; in consequence of his divine law, by which he has given to his priest the inspection and judgment of the leprosy of the soul; with the power of binding and loosing forgiving and retaining sins; and the dispensation of all the mysteries and sacraments. The person that was cleansed from the leprosy, and sent to the priest, was ordered to offer the the gift which Moses commanded, and consequently to observe the other prescriptions of the law (Levit. xii.). He was, in order to his purification, to be sprinkled seven times with the blood of a bird, immolated over living waters; he was to wash all his clothes; he was to shave all his hair; and to be washed himself all over with water; and then after seven days he was to offer a burnt offering, and a sin offering; and to be fully cleansed and expiated by the blood of the lamb, offered for sin, and by the oil of the sacrifice, that had been sprinkled seven times before the Lord; to signify to us, by these mysterious ceremonies, that such as desire to be thoroughly cleansed from the spiritual leprosy of sin, must by repeated washings of their consciences with the waters of compunction, by frequently sprinkling their souls with the blood of the Lamb of God, and by the applying to the the unction of their sevenfold grace of the Holy Ghost, attain to this perfect purification.

Consider 3rdly, what we read, Luke xvii., of ten other lepers, who applied to our Lord for their cure: ‘they stood afar off, and lifted up their voices, saying: Jesus, O master, have mercy on us. And when he saw them, he said, Go show yourselves to the priest. And it came to pass, that as they went, they were cleansed.’ See, my soul, how quickly thy Lord is moved to show mercy to them that with a loud cry call for mercy; that is with a loud cry of fervent prayer, joined with a profound humility, and a true sense of their own misery and unworthiness; expressed in the case of these men by their standing afar off, as not daring to come nearer to our Lord, by reason of their uncleanness. O let us learn to apply to our Saviour for the cure of our spiritual leprosy, with the like fervour and humility! But then mark also what follows: ‘And one of them, when he saw that he was cleansed, went back, and with a loud voice glorified God: and he fell on his face before his feet, giving thanks, and this man was a Samaritan. And Jesus answering, said, Were there not ten made clean? And where are the nine? There is no one found to return, and to give glory to God, but this stranger.’ O Christians, let us learn by this example the sentiments of love and gratitude, devotion and humility with which we ought to praise and glorify God, after being cleansed by his mercy from the unhappy leprosy of sin; the great value also we ought to set upon the grace of our purification and reconciliation to his divine majesty; and the care we ought to take never more to incur this worst of all uncleanness and of evils. alas! where these sentiments are wanting in penitents, it is much to be apprehended, that they are not far off from relapsing again into their former leprosy, and that in a worse degree than before.

Conclude to dread and to fly from the spiritual leprosy of sin more than from any other evil; but if at any time you have reason to apprehend that you have incurred this dreadful uncleanness, learn from the foregoing considerations to whom, and in what manner, you are to apply for your cure, and how you are to behave after having found this mercy.

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