Today’s Gospel recounts a story of healing and touching. A leper approached Jesus, begged him, and kneeled before him, saying, “If you choose, you can make me clean.” Historically, neither Jesus nor a leper should have approached each other, as lepers were required to isolate themselves and scream out “unclean, unclean” to anyone who approached. The leper knew what he needed and believed that Jesus had the authority to grant it. He approached with humility, asking from a kneeling position. We find Jesus, moved by pity, respond with compassion. He touches him, speaks to him, and provides him the opportunity to be fully human again.

Leprosy is in its way to being eradicated. However, the world has more lepers than ever, those whom society has marginalized. Following Christ’s example, we are invited to reach out and touch those untouchables and get rid of their leprosy. To understand how we isolate ourselves and others, as well as how to overcome stigma, shame, and fear and reach in love and compassion to others just as Jesus did.

If we identify with the leper, we have to think about what in our lives causes us to feel isolated from the community and ashamed of the presence of a condition, habit, or secret. As agents of Jesus’ healing, we must ask ourselves: who in our community feels alone and ashamed?

As we celebrate World Day for the sick today, Pope Francis reminds us of the “central truth in life: we came into the world because someone welcomed us; we were made for love; and we are called to communion and fraternity. This aspect of our lives is what sustains us, above all at times of illness and vulnerability. It is also the first therapy that we must all adopt in order to heal the diseases of the society in which we live.” He also emphasizes that “the sick, the vulnerable, and the poor are at the heart of the church; they must also be at the heart of our human concern and pastoral attention.”

Following the footsteps of our Father Founder Blessed Francisco Palau, we are committed to care for life, bringing God’s tenderness and mercy and accompanying humanity prostrated by pain, and to attending to the most vulnerable among us: Whatever you do to my sick members you do to me and I am grateful to you for it.” (MR10,7-8)

May Mary Most Holy, Health of the Sick, intercede for us and guide us to be artisans of closeness, compassion, and fraternal relationships.

Reina del Carmelo Community

Lucena City, Quezon, Philippines