The Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time
“Moved with pity, He stretched out his hand, touched him” (Mark 1:41)
We find an amazing story of compassion in today’s gospel. There is a touching humility in the leper’s request to Jesus, “If you want to, you can cure me.” This appeal was met with compassion by Jesus, who, as St. Mark comments, was moved with pity. He went further, stretching out his hand and touching the leper, so making himself unclean according to the Law. Shortly afterward, “Jesus could no longer go openly into any town, but had to stay outside in country places.” His compassion for humanity’s suffering resulted in more and more people coming to him. Even today, the outstretched arms of God’s Son on the cross are a never-ending invitation to sinners to seek refuge with him. No longer was the leper, when cured, forced to live apart from others. After showing himself to the priest, he was re-admitted as a member of the community. Jesus is still stretching out his hands, he is still touching our reality, making it his reality; our suffering is his suffering. In the gospel, he even makes himself unclean so we can become clean. Jesus crosses social and religious boundaries in order to cure the leper. But before this could happen, the leper had the courage to break the Law of isolation. The poor outcast had such hopes from this holy man that he risked rebuke for ignoring the normal prohibitions. At the heart of the encounter, compassion moves Jesus not only to respond with a word of encouragement, but also to reach out and touch him. This shows us God’s attitude to human disability. He wishes to reach us in our weakness and restore us to fullness of life. Can we break our rules of isolation, rules that somehow we build, that keep us apart from Jesus? Can we put aside our prejudices and let Jesus stretches out his hand, touch us?
I would also like to share some good news with you. This past weekend I was part of a retreat with 15 couples from our Hispanic community. Nine of the couples will be united in Holy Matrimony on May 5 during the same ceremony. I am very happy to journey with them as they face their own reality, take courage, and say yes to their love in front of the altar where they will be able to take part at the table of the Lord. Marriage is a beautiful sacrament; an unbreakable union between a man, a woman, and God; a YES that you pronounce in front of your brothers and sisters; a YES to your spouse forever. If you have not blessed your relationship with the sacrament, I invite you to journey with us and say YES to your relationship in Church.
Under Mary’s protection,