Thursday, January 14 ~ First Week in Ordinary Time
Holy Gospel: Mark 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.
Meditation: No one who sought Jesus out was refused his help. Even the untouchables and the outcasts of Jewish society found help in him. Unlike the people of Jesus’ time who fled at the sight of a leper, Jesus touched the leper who approached him and he made him whole and clean. Why was this so remarkable? Lepers were outcasts of society. Their physical condition was terrible as they slowly lost their limbs and withered away. They were not only shunned but regarded as “already dead” even by their relatives.
Prayer: Attend to the pleas of your people with heavenly care, O Lord, we pray, that they may see what must be done and gain strength to do what they have seen. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Contemplation: Beyond the human fear of contracting leprosy, Jewish law forbade anyone from touching or approaching a leper, lest ritual defilement occur. This leper did something quite remarkable. He approached Jesus confidently and humbly, expecting that Jesus could and would heal him. Normally a leper would be stoned or at least warded off if he tried to come near a rabbi. Jesus not only grants the man his request, but he demonstrates the personal love, compassion, and tenderness of God in his physical touch. The medical knowledge of his day would have regarded such contact as grave risk for incurring infection. Jesus met the man’s misery with compassion and tender kindness. He communicated the love and mercy of God in a sign that spoke more eloquently than words. St. Francis of Assisi once said: “Preach the Gospel at all times – if necessary, use words.” In other words, our Christ-directed actions speak louder than words in helping others at all times. Talk can be cheap. And so we might ask ourselves today: Do my actions speak louder than my words about how I live my life as a proclaimed disciple of Christ?