From: Saint Vincent Archabbey
"Cast me not off from your presence, and your Holy Spirit take not from me."
No one could even come close to a leper much less touch one. The Law of God separated lepers from the camp of Israel. The curse of leprosy was seen in the first reading as a just punishment for Miriam. Yet, the Lord God heard the cry of his servant Moses as he cried out, "Please, not this! Pray, heal her!" The Lord Jesus spent the night in prayer and returned to his disciples walking upon the water. Saint Peter stepped out in faith onto the waters of the stormy sea, yet his faith was not complete and he began to sink to destruction. The Lord Jesus heard his prayer and reached out his hand to touch him and rescue him. Still the Lord challenged his friend and apostle Peter, "O you of little faith, why did you doubt?" We too are slow to believe in the power of God’s saving touch. In the late 18th and early 19th centuries Saint John Vianney was a man touched with God's vision and the ability to reveal signs and wonders in the midst of a cold and unfaithful France. The Cure d'Ars had a great desire to become a priest and the Lord Jesus deepened and fulfilled that desire by making his ministry full and blessed throughout his country and the whole world. When he was canonized, Saint John of Ars was named patron for all who serve as priests. Pope Benedict XVI has placed the year of the priest under the intercession of this holy priest.
The people liberated from slavery were slow to trust God and his intimate friend, Moses. Even the closest friends of Moses, his brother Aaron and sister Miriam, were among those who questioned the authority of Moses. As usual they based their objection to the authority of their brother on the pretext of his marriage with an outsider, the Cushite woman. If he willingly unites himself to a foreigner, perhaps he is not that close to the Lord. Perhaps his judgment is clouded by his relationship with this outsider. Perhaps Moses is presuming too much upon God's favor by taking up with someone we do not know or approve. This mistake may hurt us in the future. Perhaps the Lord will remove his Spirit from among us because of Moses' decision. Surely the Lord is inspiring our thought and evaluation of this situation concluded Aaron and Moses. This kind of rebellion against Moses is nipped in the bud, and the Lord reveals the danger of opposition to his chosen servant, who bears God's trust and speaks to him, face to face, plainly and not in riddles. Moses beholds the presence of the Lord, and to oppose him is as deadly as leprosy. Indeed, it places you outside the community.
Even after his transfiguration still the apostles, caught up in the fear of a stormy sea, do not recognize the Lord Jesus. They cry out, "It's a ghost!" Even Saint Peter, who was with him on the mountaintop, is slow to believe. The testimony of such a slow growing faith among those closest to the Lord Jesus is both a comfort and a challenge for us who gather in faith today for our little transfiguration. In this Liturgy we are touched and healed by the Lord Jesus who casts us not off from his presence, and takes not his Holy Spirit from us. The Lord Jesus heals us of all that is leprous in our lives, of all that separates us from the community of the beloved. Only when we believe in his power and desire to save us will we be able to walk on the dangerous waters that frighten the weak of faith. There will always be storms that frighten all who ride the waves in the bark of Peter. Yet, these storms are not allowed by God to frighten us. We are called to walk with the Lord Jesus in faith and trust that he will not threaten us. Indeed the storms of controversy that question the authority of Saint Peter and his office of binding and loosening are allowed by God to test and strengthen our faith. So that we, too, may cry out, "Truly, you are the Son of God!" Through Him, with Him and in Him do we live and move and have our being. Confidently, we walk with the Lord in the land of the living.