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Scripture Reflections - Feb. 11
Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Leviticus 13:1-2, 44-46
1 Corinthians 10:31-11:1
Mark 1:40-45


Archives Msgr Paul E. Whitmore
Msgr. Paul E. Whitmore

Today’s readings provide guidelines for the way we should exercise mercy in our lives. 

This also involves the gentle touch of love.

Just recently, some scientific studies have shown that babies who are never touched will never develop normally, and may even die.    Even with adults, there is the touch that heals, encourages, and consoles.

A hand on the shoulders or back, or a gentle kiss reduces a sense of loneliness.  One of the losses in old age is not being touched.

The Book of Leviticus  mandated that people with skin diseases, especially leprosy, were unclean, and must never be touched.  They  must live outside the community,  and could not even worship God.

Their humiliation and loneliness of life were harder for them to bear than even their deformed bodies.

In today’s Gospel, the people who were listening to Jesus’ teaching must have been indignant at the leper who dared come physically close to Jesus, and beg Him for a cure. 

They must have been horrified that Jesus actually crossed the line and touched the leper.   Not only was this a physical healing, but an emotional and spiritual healing as well.

What a powerful lesson Jesus’ action taught that day!  He was obviously compassionate, generously sacrificing his own social status by healing the man. 

Jesus must have sensed the great longing in that outcast to be again accepted not only by society, but also to be again considered a friend of God’s.

And what a price Jesus paid for His mercy! 

Because the newly-cured leper spread the word of the healing throughout the region, it became impossible for Jesus to be seen in any public place without being mobbed by those seeking a similar cure.

While the leper returns to society, Jesus is forced out!

After this incident, Jesus’ listeners knew they should never fear to approach the Master because of their past sins or social standing.  He would understand and show compassion. 

To the “dark side” in each of us, Jesus brings light and healing to those who trust and believe.  

What is holding me back today from approaching Jesus for healing or just for His friendship?

There’s no such thing as an “outsider” in Jesus’ book.  All are welcome who seek His loving touch.

Who are the lepers in my life?   Do I avoid those who are repulsive to me?  Do I shun those with whom I disagree, or those I just don’t like?  We can all learn from one another.

Remember Jesus’ words, “I will reject no one who comes to me.”  We can at least follow the advice of today’s second reading and “avoid giving offense.” 

A smile, a welcoming word, patient listening and then giving a loving response is not going to kill us!  By our seeing in them the face of Jesus, they will see in us that same holy face.

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