Notice the word, immediately, in today’s Gospel. It is used by Mark more than 40 times in his narratives, compared to six times in Matthew, only once in Luke. It points out how each of the synoptic writers—Matthew, Mark and Luke, who wrote there Gospels in a chronological fashion as opposed to John whose Gospel is more thematic—tell the same story but focus on different aspects of Christ’s Good News. It is worth recalling how the fishermen left their nets and their father immediately when Jesus called them. The daughter of Jairus was cured immediately as was Peter’s mother-in-law who immediately began to serve her guests. One of many ways to understand Mark’s use of the word is to recall the early Church’s expectation that Jesus would return soon and the time for repentance and conversion was now. Nearly 2,000 years have passed since that time and the sense of urgency no longer exists in our minds or attitudes but that aspect of immediacy is still worth reviewing in the light of Faith.
God exists outside of time. Everything is Now and all is Immediate for Him. It’s easy for us to drag our feet in time, but He desires from us an immediacy of Faith.
Notice the words and actions of the leper. He kneels first and then begs, not with a question but with a statement of Faith. There is no doubt about what he wants but his words and actions make a profound statement when he declares to Jesus, “If you wish, you can make me clean.” Again, there is no doubt about what the leper wishes, but he turns to Jesus with a heart completely filled with Faith. He also exhibits, with his words, total Trust in God’s Will, an important component of Faith. He places himself absolutely at the mercy of Jesus with an immediacy of Faith that says, I believe, right now, without the need of proof on your part, that you, Lord, have the ability to give what I desire. I also know, here and now, that my desire must be in conformance with Your Will and I Trust that you know what is best for me and that your Love for me desires my happiness. That’s a mouthful and worth re-reading to better grasp the depth of the leper’s Faith and its immediacy.
Mark moves his Gospel narrative quickly, story to story, without giving us a lot of detail. We are not told what led to the immediacy of Faith for this leper. We are given the story in its simplest form and left to ponder what it means for me. I know that Faith is a gift from God but how can I nurture it to grow into a Faith that is immediate?