Sunday Readings: Leviticus 13.1-2, 44-46; 1 Corinthians 10.31—11.1; Mark 1.40-45
A leper came to Jesus, imploring him urgently and kneeling as he spoke. “If you will, you can make me clean.” Moved with pity, Jesus stretched out his hand and touched the man. “I will. Be made clean.” Immediately the leprosy left him. After a stern warning, Jesus immediately sent the man away, saying, “See that you say nothing to anyone. Go, show yourself to the priest and make the offering for your cleansing which Moses prescribed as a testimony to them.” The man went out and began to proclaim the whole matter freely and spread the word, so that Jesus could no longer go into a town openly. He stayed in desert places; yet people kept coming to him from all sides (Mark 1.40-45).
In Sunday’s gospel, an outsider’s plea for healing and inclusion calls Jesus to cross a boundary inscribed in Israel’s law. The leper so moves Jesus with pity that he stretches out his hand, touches, and heals the man. Jesus does what the law warns against. He makes physical contact with the leper.
Jesus’ touch expresses his will for this sufferer’s wholeness. Jesus’ act demonstrates a move we cannot make. We cannot will to heal and make it so. We can, however, feel and walk with people who suffer illness or oppressive situations. We can attempt to hear their experience of life.
Connecting with others is vital to health, especially for people battling mental illness who want to withdraw and choose isolation rather than struggle with their problem. Being heard can heal isolation. Helping new immigrants learn English and continue their education opens doors to participating in our society. Walking with people can build bridges across the invisible boundaries or even erase the boundaries.
- What is your experience of walking with people to build bridges between insiders and outsiders?
- When has touch healed you?