VI SUNDAY OF THE YEAR
leviticus 13:1-2, 44-46; 1 corinthians 10:31—11:1; mark 1:40-45
kyrie and brielle jackson were born on 17 october 1995, twelve weeks premature. while kyrie made good progress, brielle had breathing and heart-rate problems. on 12 november, brielle became critical: her limbs turned gray; she gasped for air; her heart rate soared.
nurse gayle kasparian, after exhausting conventional treatment, attempted an uncommon procedure: with parental permission, she placed the twins in the same incubator. brielle snuggled up to kyrie, and immediately calmed down. within minutes, her blood-oxygen readings improved. then kyrie wrapped her arm around brielle. brielle’s heart rate stabilized and her temperature became normal. in due time, the twins went home. the power of loving touch (and presence)!
in the gospel, JESUS shows us the power of touch. a leper approaches him with a heart-rending and faith-filled plea: «if you wish, you can make me clean.» JESUS is moved with compassion, and he does something very significant: he touches the leper.
in doing so, he defies the mosaic law (cf. first reading) and makes himself ritually unclean (at the end of the gospel passage, JESUS is the outcast!). in doing so, he expresses solidarity with the man and affirms him as a human person. the touch heals the man and makes him whole… and ready to re-enter society.
jesus’ compassion challenges us to «touch» the modern leper: people with hiv-aids; people with external/internal disfigurement; the marginalised; the infirm and the aged… and above all, people whom we keep away from our «camp».
who are the «lepers» in my life? whom and how will i touch and affirm, and restore to communion?
what about the leper who is me?! what are the unclean aspects of my life that need the touch of the LORD, that i need to touch and accept?