As you may remember, I try to ask the Lord to give me a word or a phrase that He wants me to hear at every Mass (thanks to Michael Dubriel, who suggested it in his book the How-To Book of the Mass. Please order a copy to help out his family!)
This past Sunday, however, the message came not at Mass itself, but from something my husband said right before.
We usually go over the readings with the kids bright and early on Sunday mornings, as they are all munching the standard "broiled bagels with meat and cheese" breakfast in the kitchen (my husband gets us up mighty early so we can eat a little something before the fast starts for 8:00 am Mass.)
Sorry... I'm rambling. Let me get back on track here.
The first reading was from Leviticus 13, where God gives all the various laws concerning leprosy: "The one who bears the sore of leprosy shall ... shall declare himself unclean, since he is in fact unclean. He shall dwell apart, making his abode outside the camp."
Then we read in the Gospel (Mark 1:40-45) that a leper bows down to the Lord and says, "if You are willing, You can make me clean." Of course Jesus was... and did... but my husband noticed something else. In the story Jesus tells the leper not to broadcast this healing, but the leper does anyway:
"The man went away and began to publicize the whole matter. He spread the report abroad so that it was impossible for Jesus to enter a town openly. He remained outside in deserted places..."
My husband got quiet for a minute after reading it and then said, "Did you notice that? Jesus switched places with the leper."
That thought has not left me since Sunday. Jesus switched places with the leper. The man who had been condemned to stay away from the city was now entering and joyously proclaiming to one and all that he had been healed, and Jesus was left on the outside, wandering in deserted places.
Makes you pause, doesn't it?
I've heard the story of the Passion so many times that its familiarity often blinds me to its greatness. Yes, I know He died for me... for us... and I am overwhelmed by it all, but this -- this is different. It shows me that the exchange wasn't just a one-time event. He sacrificed Himself in little ways every day, and many of them were hardly noticed.
That's the kind of Savior we have.