February 11, 2018 – Pastoral Impressions by Fr. Bill

The first reading and our gospel are about leprosy. Leprosy is not something that we encounter frequently. So to appreciate the full impact of these readings it helps to understand the context in which they were written. Lepers were required to be examined by a priest. When their disease was verified, lepers were expelled from society. Only a priest could certify their cure if they ever recovered from the disease.
In Mark’s gospel a leper does not hesitate to come to Jesus and ask for a cure. In the miraculous cure, Jesus touches him! To talk to a leper, let alone touch him was unheard of in that setting. The message is overwhelming. Jesus reaches out to all in the human family, even those expelled by accepted social standards. In curing the leper Jesus reaches out to the dregs of society. The message is clear. Jesus is the savior of all people. This includes Jews and Gentiles, men and women, the old and the young, the rich and the poor, even those whom society ignores and considers worthless. All in the human family are God’s children and deserve dignity and respect. Our readings today teach that all people are worthy of salvation in Christ. We have to admit that power, position, and wealth in today’s world do seem to make some people’s lives more important and obviously more worthwhile. This is an instance in which the gospel is clearly countercultural.
So often the happiest people are those who forget themselves and do whatever they can to serve others. It seems that the way to be happy is to forget yourself and give yourself and give your life to someone or something bigger than you are. Jesus gave his life for all!

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