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)
Doing small things with love was a favorite saying of Mother Theresa. It was part of her daily encouragement to the sisters in her order who ministered to the most marginalized in India.
There is no dispute that their charism was compassion.
It’s an appropriate beginning to this reflection which reminds us of the compassion of Jesus Christ. On a personal note, of all the virtues of Jesus Christ, it is compassion which drives my ministry.
In these days especially, it is compassion which each of us needs in abundance. The pandemic has not only brought death but it has also brought fear, alienation and anxiety. When it is overlaid with the complexities of strife, anger and incivility of our society, it can also leave us with leprosy of the heart – an overall numbness that leaves us separating from the world, sometimes overlooking the suffering, and deadening our reactions and feelings to life.
I understand that some may intentionally acquire leprosy of the heart as a way of coping. But, in the end, it does not preserve. Instead, it stagnates our emotions. You and I need to constantly resist it so that its effect is not permanent.
Suffering is part of the human condition. It is a mystery somehow bound up with the invasion of God’s good creation by evil. But the God we see in the face of Jesus Christ is a God who always works to alleviate human suffering; he doesn’t send it as a punishment. It may be true that since the time of Jesus our prayers for the alleviation of human suffering have not always been answered in the way we would have liked; this again is part of the mystery. But it should not cause us to doubt the basic desire of God is to deliver us from evil, not to inflict it on us.
So where is God in the midst of this suffering. Look around. It is you and me. We are the reflections of God. To live that reflection is to heal ourselves from any kind of leprosy that separates us from ourselves, from others, and from God.
Jesus calls each one of us to destroy the walls that separate us from others and to welcome the outcasts and the untouchables of society. God’s loving hand must reach out to the poor, the sick, and lepers — through us — and Jesus wants us to touch their lives. Mother Teresa’s life was a great example for us and her motto of : “Do small things with great love,” is so directional. Her “small things” left a big impact on the lives of the poor and outcast. She also said that, “The biggest disease today is not leprosy, but rather the feeling of being lonely and unwanted.”
As we reach out to heal others, a miracle of healing will occur in us. That small voice in our lives which, at times, leaves us feeling lonelyor marginalized or isolated will be healed. We will be filled with His love. Just as God went beyond the walls and mores of Israel to bring compassion to the suffering and reconciliation to the outcasts, He will do the same for us.
Prayer of The Day
“Lord Jesus, inflame my heart with your love and make me whole in body, mind, and spirit. May I never doubt your love nor cease to tell others of your mercy and compassion.”
Jesus reached out and physically touched the leper. He violated every medical warning and social taboo. By touching the leper Jesus lets the leper know that He will take his place not just as a man with a contagious disease but as one who is socially contaminated as well. When we read this Gospel, we cannot help but feel how little we know of true compassion!
We can do no less. We can be the hands that touch a wounded soul. We can express the words that soothe a wounded spirit. We can be the arms that hold and hug a person who may be dying. We can be the friend who sits and listens and loves another because we see a special child of God in need.