"When I stand before thee at the day's end,thou shalt see my scars and
know that I had my wounds and also my healing." - Rabindranath Tagore
Gospel text (Mk 1,40-45):
A leper came to him and kneeling down begged him and said,
"If you wish, you can make me clean."
Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand,
touched the leper, and said to him,
"I do will it. Be made clean."
The leprosy left him immediately, and he was made clean.
Then, warning him sternly, he dismissed him at once.
Then he said to him, "See that you tell no one anything,
but go, show yourself to the priest
and offer for your cleansing what Moses prescribed;
that will be proof for them."
The man went away and began to publicize the whole matter.
He spread the report abroad
so that it was impossible for Jesus to enter a town openly.
He remained outside in deserted places,
and people kept coming to him from everywhere.
They sat smiling on their cots lining both sides of the large room,
their mangled hands folded and heads slightly bowing with the traditional “Namaste” greeting. The sordid Calcutta air was inescapable as I slowly followed the Missionary of Charity brother as he guided a group of us through Titagarh, Mother Teresa’s Leprosy Center. A great percentage of the patients were staring blankly off into space, their leprosy having robbed their vision, were simply joyful to hear
our voices greeting them. Of the many emotions my visit elicited, a desire to alleviate their suffering came through most clearly but in reality there was really not much I could offer except a simple smile.
The story of Jesus and the leper is a tender love story.
Modern and ancient leprosy have a common thread: dread, stigma,
alienation. People with AIDS carry a similar stigma. Mother Teresa
called AIDS "the leprosy of the west". Anyone with disabilities will
tell you they are ostracized, especially if that disability can be seen.
I try to envision what it must be like to be a leper, suffering
disfigurement, loss of feeling, being shunned, living on the fringe of
society. But I cannot. I am mercifully blessed with good health, and I
live in a time of understanding contagion and various other aspects of
previously untreatable disease. But I can imagine the desire to be made
clean. Who of us has not asked at one time or another for healing?
I am quite sure the news of Jesus’ compassion caused as big a stir as
the miracle itself. We have so many opportunities in this day and time
to be radical in our compassion.
Jesus came to preach and to heal. How am I called to do the same?