In today’s Gospel Jesus heals a leper. But, who are the lepers of
today? The lepers of today are all those whom we or our society deem
unworthy of our love. Lepers are symbolic of those from whom basic
dignity and respect are withheld.
Today we are more subtle in the ways we prevent people from being part
of the community. We erect barriers that allow us to be separated from
them, all the while maintaining an illusion of moral superiority.
Examples of modern lepers abound. Modern lepers are the elderly whom
our society declares to be obsolete and useless. We reject those who
have had abortions. We shun prostitutes. We find sinners totally
unacceptable. But Jesus always loved sinners with the hope that they
would change. We are continually being challenged to find loving and
creative ways to minister to them. The examples are numerous. Thus the
opportunities to heal and to love are numerous as well.
There is no clearer example of what is required of us than today’s
story of Jesus healing the leper. Jesus is moved with pity. Jesus did
not often heal at a distance. The Gospel tells us that Jesus stretched
out his hand and touched the leper. Jesus risked contamination and
condemnation by his own Jewish people because he knew that real
healing comes through involvement and the willingness to risk touching
others in a caring, loving way. As Jesus did, so we are asked to care
for one another.
Today as we remember the Lord’s love for us, let us keep in mind that
we are all lepers of a sort. We all need to be cleaned and healed.
There is that tremendous need that is met by the tremendous love of
Jesus. Let us go forth and celebrate our cleansing and healing by
ministering to those who need to hear these words: “You are accepted.
You are loved. You are cleansed by love.”