Grace to you!
Are you ostracized because of the way you look, your faith, where you come from or for some other reasons? I have good news for you.
You have a friend in Jesus, who would hastily reach out to you, compassionately touch you when no one else could. I will illustrate how he does so by using one of the many examples in the bible. It is his meeting with a leper recorded in the Gospel of Mark 1:40-45).
A leper knelt down in front of Jesus and begged him, saying, “Lord, if you will, you can make me clean” (Mk 1:40). Sounds like a prayer of a person desperately in need.
I would want you to imagine this scene; and as a way to enrich your prayerful experience, consider how lepers were ostracized during the time of Jesus. In addition to the infectious nature of the disease, leprosy was the most awful sickness in biblical times, for which the Old Testament Book of Leviticus chapter 13 prescribes stringent regulations on dealing with a leper.
During the time of Jesus, leprosy was seen as a type of sin; a leper was considered unclean, and therefore must not appear within six feet of any person, including members of his or her immediate family. The leprous had to wear a black garment symbolizing he or she is treated as good as a dead person, one coming from the dead. To be in the public space, the leper must have a bell, ringing as her or she walks past people, to alert them.
The leper was thoroughly ostracized, banished from the community, and must live outside the walls of the city. The leper was a public stigma, someone considered impure and whose wounds were seen as incurable, save by divine miracle. The leper was the epitome of a person abandoned by family, rejected by friends, banished by the society and considered also abandoned by God.
I wouldn’t suppose your situation has reached this extent of rejection, but if it has or you have witnessed some form of it, the good news is that Jesus intervenes.
See what Jesus did. He stretched out his hand, and touched the leper, saying, “I will [make you clean]; be clean” (Mk 1:41). Immediately the man was clean.
I want you to meditate on the actions of Jesus; to the one who was considered untouchable because he was unclean, Jesus stretched out his tender, heavenly hands, touched and healed him. It shows us that no one is to be treated as an outcast. Dashing or unkempt, every person that we meet deserves an utmost respect as equal to us. All life, whether healthy or impaired, is sacred.
There is another lesson for you and me in this action of the Lord. The Lord teaches us by his words and actions. As the Lord is most compassionate and caring to the vulnerable and the most in need in society; so we, as his disciples, are called to do the same.
Besides, what society thinks undoable, what you consider irredeemable, that is exactly where Jesus shows he is Lord. You do not need to second-guess Jesus’ willingness to heal your wounds of sin and shame. He will heal. He will save you.
All that Jesus asks of us is a deep desire, a deep hope, and faith in him who could heal and save us. This doesn’t sound like asking too much, does it?
God love you. God bless you.
Fr. Maurice Emelu
[6th Sunday B: Lv 13: 1-2, 44-46; 1 Cor 10:31-11:1; Mk 1:40-45]
Fr. Maurice Emelu, Ph.D.
Father Maurice provides a daily blog of reflections based on the bible readings of the day from the Catholic liturgical calendar. You will find these reflections helpful for your spiritual growth, inspiration and developing your own thoughts. It may also be helpful for ministers in preparing their sermons for liturgical celebrations.