Friday after Epiphany
'I do will it. Be made clean'
Saint Anthony of Padua (c.1195-1231), Franciscan, Doctor of the Church
Sermons for Sundays and Feasts of the Saints
"Jesus stretched out his hand, touched him, and said, 'I do will it. Be made clean'"
Oh! How I marvel at that hand! That “hand of my Beloved, of gold adorned with chrysolites” (Wsd 5,14). That hand whose touch loosened the tongue of the dumb man, raised the daughter of Jairus (Mk 7,33; 5,41) and cleansed lepers. That hand of which the prophet Isaiah said: “My hand made all these things!” (Is 66,2).
To stretch out one's hand is to present a gift. O Lord, stretch out your hand – that hand which the executioner stretched out on the cross. Touch the leprous man and grant him your favor. Everything your hand touches will be cleansed and healed. “He touched Malchus' ear” Saint Luke says, “and healed him” (22,51). He stretched out his hand to grant the gift of healing to the leper. He said: “I do will it. Be made clean” and the leprosy left him immediately. “Whatever he wills, he does” (Ps 115[113B),3). In him nothing divides the will from the deed.
Now, God works this kind of instantaneous healing daily in the sinner's soul through the ministry of the priest. Priests have a threefold office: to extend the hand, that is to say to pray for the sinner and have mercy on him; to touch him, comfort him, assure him of forgiveness; to will this forgiveness and grant it by absolution. This was the threefold pastoral ministry the Lord entrusted to Peter when he said to him three times: “Feed my lambs” (Jn 21,15f.).