Scripture Readings: Book of Leviticus 13:1-2; 45-46; First Corinthians 10:31-11:1; Gospel According to Saint Luke 1:40-45

This Sunday’s Gospel describes the miraculous cure of a man afflicted with the dread disease of leprosy. An outcast of society is brought back to being accepted because of what Jesus does for him. While doing something considered “beyond belief,” Jesus nevertheless does not attempt to be seen simply as a miracle worker.

It is important to keep in mind that Jesus did not cure every person who suffered ailments in his time. In fact, only a small number of the afflicted received the healing from the Lord. What does this say? In part, at least, that suffering, sorrow and loneliness are not a sign of being rejected by God. Rather, the Lord is near to all who are broken or weighed down.

In another place in the Gospels, from Saint Luke, chapter 4, verse 27, Jesus explicitly states that though there were many lepers in the time of Elisha the prophet, “yet not one was cured except Naaman the Syrian.”

This saying of Jesus indicates that physical cure is not the only form of healing that God bestows. There is the deeper, spiritual, healing that God confers and that must never be lost sight of or forgotten. All people can obtain this and its effect is even more necessary and lasting than a physical cure.

The man who is cured in the Gospel today was not demanding a miracle, but asking Jesus for compassion and for a personal decision in his favor, something that he believed was a real possibility. Otherwise, the leper would not have asked for help.

Moved with compassion, Jesus responds by touching the leper and bringing about the restoration of one who had been an outcast, but now cured. Jesus bonded with the one who was ill, and thereby joy replaced sorrow for the leper, and for all who draw near to the Lord. No one is excluded from the great mystery of the Lord’s healing power.

Just as Jesus reached out to an outcast, Saint Paul in the second reading for this Sunday describes how all of us can reach out to others and thereby increase the family of faith to which we belong.

Paul exhorts his readers to help everyone in any way one can, pursuing not one’s own advantage, but the good of others and thereby imitate Christ in all that we say and do. In other words, in a small but significant way, believers are called to be healers by their thoughts, words and deeds. While not performing physical cures, we certainly can assist in bringing about spiritual ones, by the help of God and our willingness to love.

As humans, we think, contemplate and love. As Christian, first place is always assigned to love. Love by its very nature is ordered toward God, who is Love itself. Living by this standard, we fulfill God’s will.

On this Sunday we are struck with amazement at the compassionate hand of the Lord who touches and heals a leper. Like the leper in today’s Gospel, we should always turn to the Lord, in good times and bad. In so doing, we trust that God will fill us with peace, joy and salvation. Even if physical sickness continues, we are being offered spiritual consolation.

May the Lord cure us from anything that separates us from God and from one another. May the compassionate love demonstrated by Christ, and still present in his Body and Blood at every Eucharist (Mass), encourage us at all times.

Abbot Christian Leisy, OSB