February 14, 2021: Reflection for the Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time…February 14, 2021

By Sr Theresa Maly ND

Mark 1:40-42

This weekend we hear about a leper living alone, isolated, unseen, unheard, untouched.  The community avoiding him, judged to be a sinner and/or feared because of his contagious disease.   He knew the law called for his isolation. When he heard of Jesus being around, in desperation he sought him out.  Against the laws of the day, he found Jesus, got down on his knees, and begged him, “If you wish, you can make me clean.” Jesus compassionately reached out and touched him, also against the law, and he was cleansed.  The leper was so excited he began to rush off as Jesus warns him sternly, “Be sure you tell no one anything, but show yourself to the priest…”  Can he imagine, telling no one about this?  This was too much.  Off he goes.  We are not told if he went to the priest who evidently was to give the community assurance that he was healed. (Kind of like someone with COVID being released from quarantine.)

I was wondering who can get treated as lepers today? Who tends to be overlooked, ignored, and/or judged, feeling separated, unheard, invisible, isolated?  We think of immigrants, the homeless and poor, mentally ill, prisoners, persons of a different race, religion, sexual orientation, elderly, and sick in nursing homes, or simply a neighbor next door that we find annoying.

The leper in our story was aware of his need and urgently sought help.   Do we, first of all, recognize our need to allow our assumptions about others to be challenged, especially about immigrants and people of color?   Then, are we ready to ask for the urgent help we need to face our inner biases and prejudgments in order to free us to welcome all, no exceptions, to a caring and compassionate community?  Who are the lepers and where do I meet them today?