“Have you ever traveled a long distance to buy something that is of great importance to you only to hear that it is no longer available?” Have you ever been to an office hoping to meet someone who could help you with something that you desire so much only to hear that the person is not available and may not still be available for a long time? “Have you ever agreed to have an important telephone conversation with someone, and calling at the agreed time you hear that the person is not available?” Availability is essential in life, in fact, it is one of the critical determinants of successes and failures.
Availability is traceable to the verb “avail” which means “profit” or “advantage.” From the descriptions, availability would mean to be profitable or advantageous. It is also closely related to obtainability, handiness, readiness, accessibility, and active presence. In the Gospel narrative today (Mark 1:40-45), we learn about a leper who comes to our Lord Jesus Christ and paying homage to him by kneeling begs him saying, “if you wish (will), you can make me clean.” Moved with PITY, our Lord stretches out his hand and touching him says to him, “I will do it, be clean.” Immediately, leprosy leaves him, and he becomes clean.
We shall examine this narrative in line with availability which this reflection sees as the key to our relationship with God, our healing, and our salvation. To understand the importance of availability which we have defined earlier, it will be helpful to us to make some biblical references that point to the fact of availability and unavailability before identifying its role in the healing of the leper and its potential role in our healing and cleansing.
- The event at the garden of Eden (Genesis 3) is an indication humanity’s unavailability to God brought about by the sin of disobedience. We notice that the moral unavailability led Adam and Eve to physical unavailability as they struggle to hide when they heard God in the garden.
- Abraham represents a typical case of availability to God right from the time of his call (Gen. 12:1ff) through the difficult seasons of his life, he remained available to God.
- Samuel made himself available both physically and spiritually from the time of his call (1 Samuel 3:1ff).
- David made himself available to God through his steadfast trust in God in every situation that faced him. Most of the passages of the psalms are expressive of his total dependence or availability to God.
- In the Book of Isaiah (6:1ff) we read about the vision of the prophet in the temple and how he made himself available when God said, “who shall I send and who will go for us?” And he responds, “Here am I send me.”
- During the call of the first disciples in the Gospel of Luke (5:1-11), we learn that the fishermen left everything and followed our Lord. In other words, they made themselves available to him.
In the Gospel narrative today, we hear the story of an unnamed man, a leper, who approaches our Lord Jesus Christ for healing. The First Reading (Lev.13:1-2, 44-46) gives us the background information about the life of an average leper. That passage summarizes that a leper is set apart from the regular people by the declaration of a priest as he or she remains unclean as long leprosy remains on the skin. The leper in the Gospel Reading made himself available to our Lord Jesus Christ by breaking the socio-religious protocols of the time. His availability to our Lord Jesus Christ was not only physical, but it was also spiritual. His availability to our Lord discloses:
- His humility: He kneels and begs our Lord. St. James (4:6), says that God opposes the proud but gives His grace to the humble. St. Peter (1 Pet.5:6), advice that we should humble ourselves before the mighty hand of God and in time he will raise us up.
- His faithfulness: The leper says to our Lord, you can make me clean if you wish. He was not in doubt about the healing power of the Lord. He was only asking for his time and wish. Without faith, we cannot please God. (Heb. 11:6). Faith consists in believing that God CAN.
We are the new “lepers” because we all need healing and cleansing physically, morally, and spiritually. We all have the invitation from our Lord Jesus Christ to come to him (Matt. 11:28); to make ourselves available and we will have PITY on us. In the Old Testament, the priest needs to confirm the skin disease and declare someone unclean or clean. Today, we have the privilege of the sacrament of reconciliation where the priest would examine not the natural skin but the spiritual skin and pronounce us clean after examining us. One good thing is that everyone leaves the priest pronounced healed and cleansed.
As we prepare to enter the Lenten period, the Church is inviting us to make ourselves available for cleansing like the leper in the Gospel. God is willing, and He can make us clean again. Let us not miss the opportunity of making ourselves available for the cleansing power of God for our physical, moral, and spiritual leprosy. Have a great Sunday and a wonderful week ahead and remember to make yourself available. God bless you.