For a long time, leprosy was a feared and misunderstood disease. It was thought to be hereditary, a curse, or even a punishment for one’s sins. Thus, for quite a time lepers were stigmatized and shunned. In the First Reading (Lv. 13: 1-2, 44-46), Yahweh God gave instructions to Moses and Aaron on how lepers are to be handled. It was the priest who shall declare him unclean, and rules applied on what garments he should wear and by his having a bare head. He shall also cry out, ‘Unclean, unclean!’ and shall live apart, outside the camp where the Israelites were.
In today’s Gospel (Mk. 1: 40-45) shows us how Jesus forgives. In his homily today, Fr. Armand Robleza, SDB said, “Sa kanilang pag-iisip, yung pagpapagaling mo sa ketongin na yun ay pagpapatawad ng kasalanan sapagkat sa kanila, ang kasalanan, lalo na kung malubha ay bunga yan ng pagkakasala. (In their thinking, the cure to a leper is forgiveness of sins because for them, sin, especially those grave sins, are the effects of sinning.)”
Fr. Armand also emphasized two important points:
- Jesus touched the leper even if it wasn’t acceptable during those times. He risked being tagged as an outcast like the leper. And,
- Jesus healed the leper not by the power of others, but by His own power! Christ stood by His claim that He is the Messiah, the Son of God. The Lord’s love for the leper is total, complete and without reservations.
Let us reflect on the power of the Lord to heal us of our afflictions. Leprosy, like sin, is a sign of our weakness and frailty as human beings. Yet despite the gravity of our sins, Jesus forgives. When we forgive, do we forgive others, as Jesus did?
Let us pray to learn how to forgive, because Jesus Christ is about forgiveness; He is merciful and compassionate. “Forgiveness is the greatest act of love. If you don’t know how to forgive, you don’t know how to love!” (Fr. Armand Robleza, SDB).
“A great prophet has arisen in our midst, God has visited his people.” (Lk. 7:16)