January 16, 2020 (Thursday) - Outcast No More - A Reflection on Mark 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.

There is not a single person on this planet who has not experienced the pain of rejection. For some of us, this rejection is a part of daly life. An abusive parent. An uncaring spouse. A faithless lover. A self-absorbed friend. A harsh employer. A jealous colleague. It makes one think one is less than human. It makes one wish one was dead.

The leper in today’s story would understand this very well. An object of fear and loathing, he was literally an outcast, refused admittance into any form of social activity. He led an existence without hope. How terrible is that, to live without hope? But in the midst of his hopelessness, there appears a man, who is not quite a man. He can heal. He can deliver. He can even raise the dead.

And the leper feels hope. So the leper goes to him. He expects to see the familiar look of dread and disgust that he has seen in a thousand eyes, but there is nothing in this man’s eyes except tenderness and pity. The leper drops to his knees. “If you choose,” he says, “you can make me clean.”

And the man does something the leper had never imagined anybody ever doing. The man touches him. The tenderness of the touch reflected the tenderness he had seen in his eyes, and the leper thinks that even if nothing happens, this was enough to give him a reason to go on living. But the man said, “I do choose. Be made clean.” And the leper was healed.

My brothers, my sisters, I have not had leprosy, but like every person in the world I know the pain of rejection. It has made me bitter. It has made me angry. It has made me vengeful. It has made me lose sleep at night. It has made me shed tears. But, then, like the leper I met something I thought could heal me. And I went to him and said, “If you choose, you can make me clean.” And he reached out and touched me saying, “I do choose.”

That man’s name is Jesus. Go to him today. Be healed.