Memory of the Church

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Reading of the Word of God

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

I am the good shepherd,
my sheep listen to my voice,
and they become
one flock and one fold.
.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Mark 1,40-45

A man suffering from a virulent skin-disease came to him and pleaded on his knees saying, 'If you are willing, you can cleanse me.' Feeling sorry for him, Jesus stretched out his hand, touched him and said to him, 'I am willing. Be cleansed.' And at once the skin-disease left him and he was cleansed. And at once Jesus sternly sent him away and said to him, 'Mind you tell no one anything, but go and show yourself to the priest, and make the offering for your cleansing prescribed by Moses as evidence to them.' The man went away, but then started freely proclaiming and telling the story everywhere, so that Jesus could no longer go openly into any town, but stayed outside in deserted places. Even so, people from all around kept coming to him.

 

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

I give you a new commandment,
that you love one another.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Jesus' preaching in Galilee lasted several weeks, and during this period, he performed various miracles, including this one involving a leper. It is known that lepers were doomed to be outcasts, and all they could wish for was some alms. But, when he heard about Jesus, this leper did not resign himself to his fate. He wanted to be healed at all costs. Overcoming the law that barred him from entering an inhabited place, he came to Jesus. Indeed, to whom else could he go, if not the young prophet who made no distinctions among people and who helped everyone, especially the poor and sick? For fear of contagion, they all kept him at a distance. But Jesus welcomed him. In that leper, we see the countless ranks of those who still today have no hope of healing and who are turned away from men and women for fear of contagion. Sometimes it is not only about individuals but also about entire peoples who are excluded from development, to which everyone is entitled. Once in the presence of Jesus, the leper knelt down and begged for healing: "If you choose, you can make me clean." The evangelist Mark notes that when Jesus saw him, he "was moved with pity." The invocation of the poor always finds God's compassion. Jesus heard the prayer and said: "I do choose. Be made clean." Then Jesus reached out his hand and touched the leper who by law was considered untouchable. All three Synoptic Gospels in concordance note Jesus' gesture of touching the leper with his hand. The physical encounter with Jesus healed the leper. Jesus restored the dignity of the body and the right to live among others without being shunned any more. This Gospel scene questions us: Why shouldn't the many lepers of today have the same faith in us that that leper had in the young prophet of Nazareth? Perhaps out of concern that the man would be persecuted if he were to make it known that he had violated the law, Jesus warned him to say nothing and to present himself to the priests to make an offering as was prescribed. The man, however, full of joy, could not keep himself from sharing the news and told whoever he met the overflowing joy he felt. This miracle that Mark recounted asks all of us, the Christian communities of today, to be attentive to the cry of the poor, as Jesus was, and to "perform" alongside Jesus miracles that give back dignity to and increase the joy of the sick and poor.