Gospel Reading: Mark 1:40-45:
A leper came to Jesus and kneeling down begged him and said, “If you wish, you can make me clean.” Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand, touched him, 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. 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: The Touch of Original Beauty by David Morrison
Why did Jesus feel the need to touch the man with leprosy? By touching him, he violated everything in his cultural and religious upbringing. It’s probable that the man had not received a human touch in years and the touch was a healing of the emotions and psyche as well as the body. The healing wonders that Jesus performed weren’t merely demonstrations of his power, but were “signs” pointing to universal truths as well. Leprosy is a common symbol for the sinful human condition throughout the Jewish scriptures. Interesting enough, it is a disease that is contracted from contact with the world rather than a malady into which one is born. Jesus is the divine touch of God embracing all humanity. This touch heals us of self-hatred and its counterpart, self-absorption. The touch of God’s grace places us into the condition in which St. Paul called “accepted in the Beloved” (Ephesians 1:6). Henri Nouwen wrote, “Becoming the beloved is the great spiritual journey we all have to make.” Most of us have been taught (either by the church or from the history of our personal traumas) to view our lives through the lens of inherent depravity, despising our human nature. The touch of God’s grace teaches us to begin to see our lives through the perspective of original innocence and ancient beauty.
Psalm 32:7: “You are my hiding place. You encompass me with songs of deliverance.” Adaptation: “I hide myself in You as you hide Yourself in me” (DM).