12 January
Mk 1:40-45

A leper came to Jesus begging him, and kneeling he said to him, ‘If you choose, you can make me clean.’ Moved with pity, Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, and said to him, ‘I do choose. Be made clean!’ Immediately the leprosy left him, and he was made clean. After sternly warning him he sent him away at once, saying to him, ‘See that you say nothing to anyone; but go, show yourself to the priest, and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.’ But he went out and began to proclaim it freely, and to spread the word, so that Jesus could no longer go into a town openly, but stayed out in the country; and people came to him from every quarter.

I've often heard people say, “I felt like a leper!”  No need to look at their skin, though, or to count their fingers; what they are saying is that they felt isolated or completely discredited.  In that sense the world is still full of lepers.  There are lepers in every parish and in every village.  A young man said to me that he felt like a leper in his own family; people were steering around him, he said; no one ever asked him what he thought or how he felt.  There are lepers all around us. 

It is one thing to choose to be alone (see yesterday’s reading), but to be cast into isolation is another.  We are social beings by nature, and it requires great strength to be alone.  Nor is it always a good thing.  What can you do for someone who feels isolated but to reach out and touch them?  You are more than just you when you do that: you are society, you are community, you are the Church, you are the human race.  One may even say you are Jesus.  “Moved with pity, Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him.” 


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This page gives a very brief commentary by Donagh O’Shea on the gospel reading for each day of the month. 


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