Lev 13:1-2, 45-46
Of all the readings from Scripture, the three from this coming Sunday most relate to the situation we have been and still are facing, Covid-19. How often are we warned about the importance of social distancing, not touching others, washing hands often, wearing a mask? This is similar to the story of the man with leprosy in Sunday’s Gospel reading.
The Gospel of Mark tells the story of a leper who comes to Jesus to be cured. According to the instructions from the book of Leviticus, anyone who has leprosy is separated from family and community. Lepers are the real outcasts of their society. Anyone who comes in contact with them automatically becomes ritually unclean.
In Mark’s story the leper approaches Jesus, kneels before him and asks to be cured. The deep compassion of Jesus is evident as he reaches out and touches the leper. Jesus understands the isolation and loneliness all lepers experience. His pity for this man’s situation goes to his heart as he reaches out and heals the leper.
Who are the lepers, the outcasts of today? Obviously, we don’t think of Covid victims as outcasts, but there are people in our society we avoid as if they were lepers. Prejudices of all kinds have grown rampant in our society. For some people, if you are of a different color, ethnic background, sexual orientation, religion, than I, then you must be avoided. In some cases, not just avoided but harassed or vilified. Compassion and empathy are lacking in such thoughts and actions.
Paul reminds us that we are neither Jew nor Greek, but rather are all one family, and that all we do should be done for the glory of God. He goes on to remind us to imitate him as he imitates Christ. If we are to imitate Christ then we have to be willing to develop compassion and reach out to all the so called outsiders. Can you pleasantly greet your crabby neighbor? Can you try to heal a rift in your family? Can you call someone who is lonely? Can you be gracious to the inept cashier? There are innumerable situations in our everyday lives that are opportunities for reaching out and touching another with compassionate kindness. Imitate Christ!
When have you come in contact with someone considered an outcast in our society?
In what ways can your compassion lead you to imitate Christ?