“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 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.
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.” -Mark 1:40-45.
Commentary on the Reading of the day provided by:
Blessed John-Paul II, Pope from 1978 to 2005
Sermon preached to young people
“Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him”
The loving gesture of Jesus, who goes up to lepers to comfort and heal them, has its full and mysterious expression in his Passion.
Tortured and disfigured by his bloody sweat, scourging, crowning with thorns and crucifixion, abandoned by those who forgot his good deeds, Jesus is identified with lepers in his Passion.
He becomes both their image and their symbol, as the prophet Isaiah intuited when he contemplated the mystery of the Servant of the Lord: “There was in him no beauty nor appearance… He was despised and rejected by men and as one from whom others hide their faces… And we, we accounted him stricken, struck down by God and afflicted” (Isaiah 53:2-4).
Yet it is precisely from the wounds on the tortured body of Jesus and from the power of his resurrection that life and hope spring up for all those who are struck down by evil and infirmity.
The Church has always been faithful to its mission of proclaiming the word of Christ, united to concrete acts of mercy showing solidarity towards the humblest and least.
Throughout the centuries there has been a crescendo of stunning and exceptional devotion on behalf of those struck down by what are, humanly speaking, the most repulsive of illnesses.
History clearly brings to light the fact that Christians have been the first to become involved in the problem of lepers.
Christ’s example led the way.
He bore much fruit in selfless deeds of solidarity, devotion, generosity and charity.