The Gospel according to 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.
Reflection: There is a lot of research indicating how crucial physical touch is after a baby is born. As soon as possible the nurse or doctor places the newborn on the mother’s body preferably skin to skin. Our last grandchild was placed on mom and dad the same way, skin to skin. I remember as a young child how my sense of belonging, acceptance and love would go through the roof when my mom, dad, or other special loved one would give me a bear hug. I am in serious “hug deficit” during this pandemic. Touch is a gift that when done in a sincere and loving manner can help heal many hurts.
In today’s gospel, Jesus does the un-thinkable. He touches a person with a highly transmissible, deadly disease. I’m pretty sure none of us would get within 100 yards of this individual. But this is only a glimpse of how far God is willing to go to meet us where we are. In fact, there are no limits to how far or where the Son of God will go. In the the Apostle’s creed we say, Jesus descended into hell. Why? Because there is no placeHe will not go for the sake of those he loves. We experience the healing touch of God in many ways. Through prayer, medication, fasting, liturgy, reading, and many others. And, through each other. Maybe we should think of ourselves as Jesus with skin on.
As followers of Christ, we profess a faith that calls us to not just listen to his teachings and admire his example but to do as he did. Although we may not ever be in a position to risk our lives for the sake of another, we have endless, daily opportunities to reach out to those that need the loving touch of God. We are, at times, in need of that same spiritual healing. Let us all participate and cooperate with the grace of God and minister to each other’s needs so that we can truly experience the touch of the one who made the leaper clean.
Action of the Day: The limitations to contact with others during this pandemic cannot contain the uncontainable love of God. Express the love of God present in your life with somone who has said to Jesus, in prayer, “if you wish, you can make me clean”.