|Jean-Marie Melchior Doze, 1864|
I actually provided some notes on today's Gospel (the Third Sunday after Epiphany), from Chapter 8 of St Matthew's Gospel, earlier in the week. Those notes focused on an aspect of the Centurion's story. Accordingly today I'll look at the other miracle of this text, the healing of a leper. Here is the text again:
1 Cum autem descendisset de monte, secutæ sunt eum turbæ multæ: 2 et ecce leprosus veniens, adorabat eum, dicens: Domine, si vis, potes me mundare. 3 Et extendens Jesus manum, tetigit eum, dicens: Volo: mundare. Et confestim mundata est lepra ejus. 4 Et ait illi Jesus: Vide, nemini dixeris: sed vade, ostende te sacerdoti, et offer munus, quod præcepit Moyses, in testimonium illis.5 Cum autem introisset Capharnaum, accessit ad eum centurio, rogans eum, 6 et dicens: Domine, puer meus jacet in domo paralyticus, et male torquetur. 7 Et ait illi Jesus: Ego veniam, et curabo eum. 8 Et respondens centurio, ait: Domine, non sum dignus ut intres sub tectum meum: sed tantum dic verbo, et sanabitur puer meus. 9 Nam et ego homo sum sub potestate constitutus, habens sub me milites, et dico huic: Vade, et vadit: et alii: Veni, et venit: et servo meo: Fac hoc, et facit. 10 Audiens autem Jesus miratus est, et sequentibus se dixit: Amen dico vobis, non inveni tantam fidem in Israël. 11 Dico autem vobis, quod multi ab oriente et occidente venient, et recumbent cum Abraham, et Isaac, et Jacob in regno cælorum: 12 filii autem regni ejicientur in tenebras exteriores: ibi erit fletus et stridor dentium. 13 Et dixit Jesus centurioni: Vade, et sicut credidisti, fiat tibi. Et sanatus est puer in illa hora.
And the English:
1] And when he was come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed him:  And behold a leper came and adored him, saying: Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.  And Jesus stretching forth his hand, touched him, saying: I will, be thou made clean. And forthwith his leprosy was cleansed.  And Jesus saith to him: See thou tell no man: but go, shew thyself to the priest, and offer the gift which Moses commanded for a testimony unto them.  And when he had entered into Capharnaum, there came to him a centurion, beseeching him, And saying, Lord, my servant lieth at home sick of the palsy, and is grieviously tormented.  And Jesus saith to him: I will come and heal him.  And the centurion making answer, said: Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldst enter under my roof: but only say the word, and my servant shall be healed.  For I also am a man subject to authority, having under me soldiers; and I say to this, Go, and he goeth, and to another, Come, and he cometh, and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it.  And Jesus hearing this, marvelled; and said to them that followed him: Amen I say to you, I have not found so great faith in Israel.  And I say to you that many shall come from the east and the west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven:  But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into the exterior darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.  And Jesus said to the centurion: Go, and as thou hast believed, so be it done to thee. And the servant was healed at the same hour.
Here is St Jerome's Sermon on the story of the Leper, from the Third Nocturn readings at Matins in the Benedictine Office, from the translation provided at Divinum Officium (you can find it by selecting Divino Afflatu rubrics):
"When the Lord was come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed Him. They were not able to follow Him when He went up. And first there came a leper. This poor creature's disease had prevented him from hearing the Saviour's long sermon on the Mount. Let it be noted that he is the first person specially named as being healed. The second was the Centurion's servant; the third was Peter's wife's mother, who was sick of a fever at Capernaum; the fourth were they who were brought unto Christ as being troubled with evil spirits, from whom He by His word cast out the evil spirits, at the same time that He healed all that were sick.
And, behold, there came a leper, and worshipped Him, saying Properly after preaching and doctrine cometh occasion for a sign, that the power of the miracle might confirm in the hearers the truth of the teaching that had gone before. Lord, if Thou wilt, Thou canst make me clean. He that prayeth the Lord to have the will, doubteth not but that He hath the power.
And Jesus put forth His hand, and touched him, saying I will; be thou clean. As soon as the Lord put forth His Hand the leprosy departed. Let us remark how lowly and unbragging is the Lord's language. The leper had said, If Thou wilt; the Lord answereth, I will. The leper, Thou canst make me clean, the Lord, Be thou clean. Most Latin readers, misled by the identity of form in that language between the Present Infinitive Active and the Second Person Singular Present Imperative Passive of the Verb, read Christ's answer as if it were, I will to make thee clean. This is wrong. The sentences are separate. First cometh the expression of volition, I will, then the command, Be thou clean.
And Jesus saith unto him See thou tell no man. What need was there to tell what his body showed? But go thy way, show thyself to the Priest. There were divers reasons why Christ should send him to the Priest. First, for humility's sake, that He might show reverence to God's Priest. Then there was a command in the law that they that were cleansed of leprosy should make an offering to the Priests. Moreover, that, when the Priests saw the leper cleansed, they might either believe in the Saviour, or refuse to believe; if they believed, that they might be saved, and, if they believed not, that they might have no excuse. Lastly, that He might give no ground for the accusation that was so often brought against Him, that He was unobservant of the law."