Leviticus 13:1-2, 44-46
1 Corinthians 10:31-11:1
To our modern minds we find the treatment of lepers as set forth in Leviticus very harsh. The leper must live apart, outside the camp, and should a healthy person pass by the leper must cry out: "Unclean, Unclean!" This was still the law when Jesus walked the roads of Palestine. The leper in this story comes to Jesus (a bold action) and knells before him (a humble posture). His request is respectful: "If you wish, you can make me clean."
For a brief instant, everything hangs in the balance. The apostle must have been watching in shock. What would the Master do? Jesus stretches out his hand and touches the leper (a bold action that in the law makes Jesus ritually unclean) and he says. "I will do it. Be made clean." Mark makes the judgment that Jesus was "moved with pity." The cure was instantaneous.
The power of Jesus to heal even the "living death" of leprosy was clear for all to wonder at. It was impossible to Jesus to enter a town openly.
We might first reflect that we must boldly go to Jesus as the leper did. Even that action will be an inspiration of the Spirit. We need to sense that Jesus has power. But must we go as humble supplicants, simply presenting our needs, demanding nothing. This passage of Mark’s gospel invites us to trustin the loving heart of Jesus.
A final thought: who are the outcasts in today’s society? Are they the homeless? Are they the prisoners in overcrowded jails? Are they the undocumented immigrant? Are they the child that our schools leave behind?
Are they the abandoned in our nursing homes? If we are true followers of Jesus we will reach out as he did to relieve and help the least of our brothers and sisters.
Fr. Mike Hoolahan, C.P. is on the staff of Mater Dolorosa Passionist Retreat Center, Sierra Madre, California.