Mk 1: 40-45
A leper came to him begging him, and kneeling he said to him, “If you choose, you can make me clean.” Moved with pity, Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, and said to him, “I do choose. Be made clean!”
Immediately the leprosy left him, and he was made clean. After sternly warning him he sent him away at once, saying to him, “See that you say nothing to anyone; but go, show yourself to the priest, and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.”
But he went out and began to proclaim it freely, and to spread the word, so that Jesus could no longer go into a town openly, but stayed out in the country; and people came to him from every quarter.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
Jesus heals, not just cures
A few weeks ago, I came down with a low-grade fever and a fatigue that knocked me out for a week. In normal times I would have just stayed home and let it run its course. However, in these times of COVID-19, I called my doctor and got a test. While I awaited the results of my test, I isolated myself in my room and not only ate meals separately from my community, but ate after they had finished their meals. When I thought I might have COVID my internal response was, “But I have been so careful, how could I have it? Oh, my, who do I need to call to tell them I might have been exposed and might have exposed them?” The reaction that surprised me the most was that I felt “dirty.”
For many of us, this time of the pandemic is one of social isolation. Video communication like Zoom and Facebook Messenger are well and good, but nothing replaces being physically together with others and physical touch like hugs and handshakes.
What I think we understand more than ever is that Jesus may have cured the leper, but he healed the leper by restoring him to the community. The leper was not only isolated but felt “dirty” and was untouchable. Though physical leprosy is rare in the developed world, there are social lepers. Their hearts cry out, “Jesus, I wish to be made clean, made whole.” Do we choose to make our lepers clean?
—Fr. Jim Caime, SJ, is the pastor of St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church in Kansas City, MO.
You can have my heart, though it isn’t new
It’s been used and broken, and only comes in blue
It’s been down a long road, and it got dirty along the way
If I give it to you, will you make it clean
And wash the shame away?
You can have my heart, if you don’t mind broken things
You can have my life; you don’t mind these tears
Well, I heard that you make old things new
So I give these pieces all to you
If you want it, you can have my heart
So beyond repair, nothing I could do
I tried to fix it myself
But it was only worse when I got through
Then you walk right into my darkness
And you speak words so sweet
And you hold me like a child
’til my frozen tears fall at your feet
—Lyrics to “Broken Things” by Julie Miller, © Warner Chappell Music, Inc, Universal Music Publishing Group