When Jesus had come down from the mountain, great crowds followed him; and there was a leper who came to him and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, if you choose, you can make me clean.” He stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, “I do choose. Be made clean!” Immediately his leprosy was cleansed. Then Jesus said to him, “See that you say nothing to anyone; but go, show yourself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.”
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
The English teachers at my Jesuit high school had a maxim for descriptive writing: “Show, don’t tell.” Instead of writing, “Mr. Gibson looked tired,” one might show how Mr. Gibson looked: “Wrinkled bags hung under Mr. Gibson’s eyes.” Such concrete language allows the reader to picture the scene and draw her own conclusions about Mr. Gibson.
Jesus gives similar instructions to the ex-leper in today’s Gospel: Show, don’t tell. The priest is likely skeptical about Jesus: Is Jesus actually holy, or just a troublemaker? So Jesus sends the leper not to tell the priest that Jesus is a good guy, but to “show [him]self to the priest.” Jesus, like a good writer, lets the details speak for themselves: A man’s skin, once covered in bulging bumps and rough scales, is now smooth as a baby’s bottom. What does that say about Jesus? You, like the priest, can decide.
Lord, by healing the man with leprosy and sending him to the priests, you allowed his life to be a witness to your healing power. May our lives also be witnesses of your love and grace to those we encounter.
—The Jesuit Prayer team