The leper Jesus heals today is our existential image. Contemplating the story further reveals that it is not the healing from leprosy which is the central event. Instead, his regained ability to speak deserves attention. Julia Kristeva (and the whole of the psychoanalytic tradition) speaks of us as the ‘speaking being’. The ability to tell one’s story – pains, traumas, hopes, desires, and joys – makes us ‘alive’. This is always the first step towards our truer self.
Let us meditate on the leper’s regained ability to speak. Despite Jesus’ instruction that he should keep silence until he is seen by the priests, ‘the men went away, but then started talking about it freely and telling the story everywhere.’ So, can we go a step further than psychoanalysis? Can we raise the idea that there is a second, deeper ground of what makes us genuinely ‘speaking beings’? The leper’s uncontrollable urge to share what happens to him shows this. This very event is the conversation with Jesus. To be more precise, it is verbalising his desire to open that part of his life which needs healing. ‘If you want to you can cure me’, he said. Reaching the threshold of self-expression before our Healer-God, and stepping over it, is ‘the moment’. When our whole being starts to speak. When, as it were, we ‘flow into ourselves’, into where we supposed to be, who we are supposed to be.
But there is something even more profound as part of ‘the moment’. It is Jesus’ desire to give the final impetus to the ‘speaking being’: ‘Of course, I want to [cure you]!’ Without this ability to express our innermost existential desires to Him – we live as silent beings. And through these personal silences, our whole culture remains silent before God.
So, can we say, God is our ability to speak? That God is closer to us than our speech?
These are verbal Icons, expressions of how the world is seen from Saint Augustine's..