Have you ever gone to a really scary horror movie? People say that they go to horror films because they love to shriek and get a thrill from seeing monsters and feeling their skin crawl. But you would feel real-time horror if you lived in Jesus’ time and saw a leper coming near.
Lepers were required to leave their homes, and be exiled to the hills or the caves, usually until their death. Jesus knew very well what healing would mean. The real miracle in today’s Gospel may have been that now the man would return from exile in the leper caves, and be reunited with his mother, his wife and children, his church community. Jesus always brings people back from isolation.
We see again how Jesus was not controlled by the religious laws which said “Do not touch lepers.” Jesus actually reached out and touched the leper; he tried always to “bring release to the captives…and to set free those who are oppressed.”
St. Paul says, “Never do anything offensive to anyone,” yet we know we treat insiders and outsiders differently. The simple question for us is, “How do we relate to the outsiders each day?” Do we offer any degree of charity or patience to the “different ones?” Do we glare, look forbidding, or refuse to have eye contact?
If people seem like an annoyance in our lives, we need to picture Jesus touching us, as he touched the leper, freeing us from our disease of disgust…and setting us free to BE the healing of Christ to others. We should be the first example of love and inclusion that anyone meets!
“A faith that does not trouble us is a troubled faith. A faith that does not make us grow is a faith that needs to grow” (Pope Francis tweet). We begin the season of a “change of heart” this Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. May the grace of this Lenten season lead us to encounter the Lord Jesus who suffered and died for love of humankind; may it lead all of us to grow in our faith. God bless you and keep you always in His Love!
Listen to my homily today:
Joyfully in the Lord,
Rev. Msgr. Edward J. Arnister
Pastor, St. Rose Parish