Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ (1 Cor 11, 1)
Jesus bears our infirmities and endures our sufferings. His true followers follow his example.
A leper presents himself before Jesus, despising the shame of possibly being simply ordered by others, “Get out of here!” He begs him humbly and trustingly, “If you wish, you can make me clean.”
Moved with pity, Jesus stretches out his hand and, without being concerned about his becoming unclean himself, he touches the untouchable. He then affirms his will and utters the healing words.
But Jesus does not only want the personal wholeness of the one who lives on the margins, but also his fitting socially again into a larger whole. He sends him away at once, warning him to fulfill what the law requires. It is urgent for the one healed to get from the competent authority the certification that he is clean, so that he may remain isolated no more.
There are not even a few moments to waste talking to the public. Jesus is not interested anyway in the healing being publicized. He knows quite well that his fellow citizens will easily mistake him for the messiah of their mistaken expectations: a conqueror with the mission to expel the Romans and lead the war against other religions and cultures.
Jesus is the meek and humble Messiah. He comes to save all nations. He transcends nationalities, cultures and classes; he is all things to all people. He considers reprehensible even the suggestion of vengeance in the form of a consuming heavenly fire. His mission consists in giving his life as a ransom for all. Welcoming and curing a pariah, the Healer now ends up remaining in deserted places, as though to predict that he will suffer death outside the city gate.
So then, we Christians have to stream to the outskirts to go to Jesus. If we sincerely seek to be his disciples, he will infect us with his tender mercy, so that we may get to be true followers, willing even, like St. Paul, to be accursed and separated from the Lord for others’ sake.
The Eucharist recalls Jesus’ self-emptying love to the end. Our celebration makes very little sense if we are not ready to leave it for the sake of the poor, “to leave God for God” (St. Vincent de Paul—FRIX:319). Our alms, prayers and fasts will remain suspect unless we are neighbors to the needy, letting them to inconvenience and slow us down.
Lord Jesus, you will our good. Instill in us the same love, so that we may be willing also to become curse for the good of our neighbors.