The Willing, Healing Touch


Mark 1: 40-45
1 Sm 4:1-11 / Psa 44

Moved with compassion, our Lord stretched out His hand, and touched him, saying, ‘I do will it; be made clean.’
(Mark 1:41)

What are the illnesses that plague us?
They are the consequences of sin.
But hope and healing comes from Jesus,
Who says, “I do will it, be made clean.”

One day, a leper came up to Jesus and on his knees begged Him, “If You are willing, You can make me clean.” Moved with compassion, our Lord stretched out His hand, and touched him, saying, “I do will it; be made clean.” Immediately, the leprosy left him and he was cleansed. Jesus sent him away at once with a stern warning: “See that you don’t tell this to anyone; but go, show yourself to the priest, and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded, as a proof for them.” Instead, he went out and began to talk freely, spreading the news. As a result, Jesus could no longer enter a village publicly, but had to stay away in isolated places. Still, people came to Him from everywhere for healing. (Mark 1:40-45)

Reflection

What an ironic twist of events, that by healing a leper, and because of the latter’s disobedience, it was now Jesus who “could no longer enter a village publicly, but had to stay away in isolated places” — like a leper!

During the time of our Lord, and even in the ancient times of Moses, the leper was considered an outcast of society who could not even visit his loved ones, but was condemned by his community, damned as a hopeless sinner, and better off dead. The greatest hunger of a leper was the craving to be touched and be loved.

We like to be clean, well-scrubbed and smelling good whenever we meet with other people, especially when our community congregates in breakfasts or prayer assemblies. We shake hands with our brothers and kiss our sisters, and even hug those who are really close to us. But why do we not feel the same compulsion for those who truly need to be hugged and kissed, or even just touched with compassion and concern? Visit the orphanage of abandoned children, or the old folks’ home of the Missionaries of Charity, or if you feel a little bolder, the city’s rehabilitation center. Carry a malnourished baby, wrap an arm over an old lady, or shake the hand of an inmate. Immediately you can feel the joy and contentment emanating from the little babe, the warm appreciation of the elderly, or the strange sense of being accepted by the man behind the iron bars.

How can we say our faith is not skin-deep if we are easily turned off by the unsightly appearance or offensive smell of our poor Christian brothers and sisters? The Missionaries of Charity, guided by the example of Mother Teresa of Calcutta, are the models that I wish I could follow someday. They embrace the sick and terminally ill, the unwashed poor, unmindful of their stench and squalid condition. They reflect the attitude of Jesus towards the poor and afflicted – with total love and compassion.

This is the same way that Jesus responds to us, when we come to him in our own uncleanness, and acknowledging that he alone can make us clean, and throwing ourselves upon his mercy. As His example in today’s Gospel, may we do likewise to the “great unwashed’ who come to us for assistance and mercy.

Whenever I feel repulsed by the sickness, squalor, stench or ignorance of your little children, heal me, Lord, of this leprosy of my soul. Amen.

Comments are closed.