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Sunday, 11th February 2018

 

Gospel

Mark 1:40-45

A leper came to Jesus and pleaded on his knees: ‘If you want to’ he said ‘you can cure me.’ Feeling sorry for him, Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him. ‘Of course I want to!’ he said. ‘Be cured!’ And the leprosy left him at once and he was cured. Jesus immediately sent him away and sternly ordered him, ‘Mind you say nothing to anyone, but go and show yourself to the priest, and make the offering for your healing prescribed by Moses as evidence of your recovery.’ The man went away, but then started talking about it freely and telling the story everywhere, so that Jesus could no longer go openly into any town, but had to stay outside in places where nobody lived. Even so, people from all around would come to him.
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Commentary by Fr Murtagh

The story of the leper is one of faith in Jesus. ‘if you want to you can cure me’, he pleads on his bended knees. Jesus, we are told, felt sorry for him. He stretched out his hand and he touched him. He touched him! He touched the untouchable.

‘Of course I want to’, he said ‘Be cured’. He sends him off to fulfill the duties prescribed by the law of the time and asks him too keep quiet about it but the man feels so elated he spreads the news everywhere to the point where Jesus becomes, like the leper, obliged to stay in remote places.

In his meeting with Christ the leper who is considered as impure meets the fount of purity.  The living dead meets the author and the restorer of life.  Christ raises him from living death to new creation, foreshadowing his own defilement, his outcast fate, and demonstrating the work of the Messiah in action. The leper receives healing and readmission and promptly proclaims what God has done for him in Christ. He is touched by God’s healing hand, purified and restored, and brought to faith and thanksgiving.

The gospel invites us to enter the mystery of our own disabilities, hidden or otherwise. We need not fear those moments of being secret “lepers” ourselves, those parts of our being we hide away and lock up: our failures and sins, our vanities and deceptions, our jealousies and fakery. He will reach out to touch us there. It is only our denial that prevents the cure.