A leper came to him and kneeling down begged him and said,
“If you wish, you can make me clean.”
Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand,
touched the leper, and said to him,
“I do will it. Be made clean.”
The leprosy left him immediately, and he was made clean.
Then, warning him sternly, he dismissed him at once.
Then he said to him, “See that you tell no one anything,
but go, show yourself to the priest
and offer for your cleansing what Moses prescribed;
that will be proof for them.”
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,
and people kept coming to him from everywhere.
There are two things that jump out at me today when I read this Gospel. First of all, Jesus is “moved with pity” when He sees the leper. Lepers were complete outcasts. No one would come near a leper for fear of being contaminated. And they would be repulsive to the human touch.
Bishop Fulton Sheen told the story of the time that he visited a leper colony. He had brought crosses for each person there, but the first person he encountered had skin falling off of his hand. His leprosy was very advanced. Bishop Sheen said that he dropped the cross in the man’s hands because he didn’t want to touch him. And as he moved to the next person he was stopped in his tracks. He couldn’t go on because he had just treated the first person as less than human. He went back and clasped the man’s hands within his own hands and smiled at him. This changed the Bishop’s life. He went on to touch each person there as he delivered each cross. He had encountered Jesus in each of the lepers.
Jesus, also without fear, moved forward and TOUCHED the leper with compassion, and he was healed. We too are called to reach out to the outcasts, to those that lack the simple dignity of the human touch. The human touch is powerful. Pope Francis makes headlines when he embraces or kisses those that are “untouchable”. He is living his call as an “alter Christus” or “another Christ” in the world today.
Also, I have always been perplexed why Jesus always said, “Don’t tell anyone about this” after He healed someone. But today it dawned on me that whenever people heard about these miracle healings, mobs would show up and Jesus would have to disappear because of the mob scene. He became like a rock star. Jesus did not come as a magician to just cure people or as a rock star to cause mob scenes. He came to teach the people about faith, salvation, love, mercy, etc.
The mob scenes prevented Him from carrying out His mission. No one would listen to Him; they just wanted to touch Him. I believe that is part of the reason Jesus always says, “Don’t tell anyone about this…”
May we reach out to Jesus to be healed ourselves today. Then may we also reach out to others in need of simple human dignities. Touch someone today that seems unlovable. Be Christ to someone that you meet today. Treat every human being with the dignity they deserve, with the dignity that Christ deserves in them.
Do I avoid people who seem “unclean”?
Do I treat every person with dignity, love and respect?
Where do I need healing in my own life?
Have a blessed day!