On February 15th while celebrating our Sunday mass with the children of Father Wasson’s Angels of Light and the teenagers of the Don Bosco program, we had some very special guests. With the help of volunteers, the children who reside in the hospital, having been abandoned because of their ailments, honored us with their presence. It was a true blessing to be able to see all the children of our programs blend together and participate in worshiping and honoring God as brothers and sisters in Christ.
The Gospel reading told the story of Jesus Healing the Leper. The passage narrates Jesus’ compassionate actions as he meets and heals this leper who is considered practically dead by the law. The law forces this leper to live away from others, isolating him and preventing him from communicating with the world. The leper was not able to touch anyone, and when he walked the streets he would have to shout unclean to insure others did not even accidentally touch him. His sickness meant he could not even enter the temple, therefor even God was considered inaccessible to him!
Jesus knowing these barriers created by the law decides to turn the whole system upside-down. Jesus, full of compassion, enters into the world of the Leper. He feels the Leper’s pain, his isolation, loneliness, and suffering. Jesus reaches out and touches the leper. He breaks the law, he risks the threat of infection, and contaminates himself if not physically, definitely spiritually. His act of touching the Leper meant under the current law that Jesus was ritually impure, and should be excluded from participating in worship. This exclusion is the price Jesus pays to save the excluded from deadly loneliness.
Charity is not unblemished, it requires the one giving to get their hands dirty, to contaminate themselves. In this story the person who should no longer be touched is touched by Jesus and this contact communicates not just the underlying message of Christ but also the way in which He loves. Jesus is present in the world and can feel and interact with us as humans even though he is also fully divine. The direct consequence of touching the leper is coincidentally isolation (cf. Mark 1:45), after the healing Jesus is forced to live in the desert outside the town. This similarly reflects how Jesus will have to be separated and suffer with his Passion and death in order to heal and save. Jesus takes upon himself the suffering of others and endures their pain thus truly fulfilling the role of the Suffering Servant, taking on our diseases, infirmities, sin, and the consequences of them.
Inspired by this Gospel Passage and touched by the presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, after mass all in attendance visited the sick and infirmed in the NPH St. Damien Pediatric Hospital. There was praying and singing as these children entered into the suffering of others and touched them in order to have Christ’s love be shown through them. It was truly awesome!
Contributed by Fr. Enzo Del Brocco