Lev. 13:1-2, 44-46
In the reading from Leviticus we hear the biblical laws concerning leprosy (skin diseases thought to be contagious). Anyone who succumbed to this disease was declared unclean. One suffering from leprosy must declare himself unclean, wear his clothing torn, his hair disordered and cry out “Unclean unclean.” He must also live outside the camp.
To be sick, humiliated and cut off from society in this manner must have been devastating to the sufferer.
This was the plight of the leper in our gospel story today. (Mark 1:40-45). He came to Jesus the Priest, and pleaded on his knees, “If you want to’ you can cure me”. We hear the leper crying out in faith and trust to Jesus who answered him “of course I want to”, and Jesus’ reaction was spontaneous and immediate. He stretched out his hand and touched him (a gesture he should not have used) saying “be cured” and the leprosy left him at once and he was cured.
Jesus immediately sent him away and ordered him “mind you say nothing to anyone.” But like most of us when we experience being touched deeply, we want to share our excitement and joy with others. The leper in this story “started talking freely and telling the story everywhere.”
Where has or does leprosy affect us in our own lives? I’m sure the lock down experience during Covid was like calling out “Unclean, Unclean,” when family members couldn’t visit elderly or sick parents, or other family members. Today the leprosy of war, murder, racism, injustice, poverty, and hunger is on our doorsteps. What can I do to show Jesus’ generosity of spirit? Can I respond to others who ask a favor from me with “of course I want to,” and joyfully and graciously relieve the anxiety of another.
Let us honestly ask ourselves where can I put this acclamation of Jesus into practice throughout this week? A quote from Maya Angelo reads “When we give cheerfully and accept gratefully, everyone is blessed.” How can we Bless and be Blessed this week?
Therese Lenehan OP