THE TOUCH OF MERCY
February 14, 2021: A Reflection for the Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B
Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand and touched him… (Mk 1:41)
He sat by the side of the road, looking into the faces of the passers-by for some shred of recognition and maybe a coin or two that would provide sustenance. Most hurried by, eager to be as far as possible from the man whose sores and scabs shouted more loudly than his cry of “Unclean! Unclean!” He was a leper. He was literally ‘untouchable.’ It broke his heart that he had to carry a disease that made others shun him. “After all,” he would say to himself, “it’s not my fault that I have to carry this wretched infirmity. If people only knew that these sores were only skin deep and there was so much more, deep inside me. Doesn’t anyone seem to notice more than the surface?
Then he heard him. In the midst of a jostling crowd, the leper heard a voice that echoed deep inside. It was the Healer, a man named Jesus whose voice went straight to his heart. He had heard a lot about this Healer. He seemed to have a gift with his words and his kindness that recognized human misery and healed it. His look went deeper than any other person had ever done. It carried infinite compassion. The leper knew what he would do.
Throwing caution to the wind, he approached Jesus and poured out his heart. “If you wish, you can make me clean.” It was a chance he was taking, risking scorn by making contact with someone who didn’t share his disease. But he was willing to take it. There was something in the knowing look that the Healer gave him that told the leper that he understood. All would work out. What happened next was more than the leper could possibly have expected. The Healer touched him! There was no hesitation as Jesus reached out his hand, only infinite mercy. And in the touch of mercy, the leper’s flesh was washed clean. Clean as a newborn. He could even feel it deep inside. He was no longer an outcast.
Jesus, you are the same: yesterday, today, and forever. The same mercy which welled up in your heart as you gazed upon the leper is present for us today. Let your compassionate gaze cover us in your mercy and help us to be mercy to one another and instruments of your healing love.