Meditation and Questions for Reflection or Group Discussion
(Leviticus 13:1-2,44-46; Psalm 32:1-2,5,11; 1 Corinthians 10:31–11:1; Mark 1:40-45)
Knowing and Experiencing the Healing Touch of Jesus
“He remained outside in deserted places.” (Mark 1:45)
This man wore no shackle or chain, yet he lived every day in solitary confinement. Afflicted with leprosy, he was bound by Levitical law, which insisted that everyone with a skin disease must be quarantined. It was a hellish fate, where they lived in isolation until they withered away.
Then the man felt a touch from Jesus’ outstretched hand, and he was healed instantly! Jesus took away the disease that separated this man from his brothers and sisters, and by extension, from God. For centuries, Fathers of the Church have seen in this story a model of the way Jesus destroyed the leprosy of sin and brought us back into communion with each other and with God.
We are familiar with the healings that Jesus performed—healings of body, soul, and spirit. For the most part, they have happily-ever-after endings where everyone is restored to health, and Jesus is revered as a powerful wonderworker. But this story takes an unexpected turn. While the man was able to embrace his loved ones and rejoin the community, Jesus was forced to remain outside of the town in “deserted places” (Mark 1:45). Why?
We may think it was because Jesus was afraid the people would try to make him a king or use him in their political struggle against the occupying Roman army. This may have been part of Jesus’ thinking. But if we look at the Law of Moses, we see that Jesus stayed away also because he had touched a leper, which made him ritually unclean. And the only remedy for such impurity was a time of isolation so that he would not contaminate anyone else.
What a vivid illustration of the gospel! On the cross, Jesus took upon himself the sickness of our sin and the banishment that we deserved. He bore them in his own body, cleansing us to be united with God. By Love’s wounds, we have been healed!
“Lord Jesus, your love moves me to bow in worship at your feet, for that leper was me.”
(Many thanks to The Word Among Us (www.wau.org) for allowing us to use meditations from their monthly devotional magazine. Used with permission.)
Sunday, February 12, 2012
Questions for Reflection/Discussion
- The first reading describes Jewish laws concerning lepers. In addition to the suffering caused by the disease of leprosy, why did declaring a leper as unclean and having him “dwell apart” from the community make his suffering even worse? What more can you do to reach out to those who are sick and suffering?
- In the Responsorial Psalm (Psalm 32:1-2, 5, 11), why does the psalmist talk of being glad, rejoicing, and exalting in the Lord after confessing his sins? This should also be our response after receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Is it yours? Why or why not?
- In the second reading, St. Paul urges us to be an imitator of him as he is of Christ, so that many “may be saved.” Why is the witness of our lives so important in drawing people to Christ and his Church? What are some areas of your life that may need to change so that others can see Christ in you in a clearer way?
- In the Gospel reading, Jesus was “moved with pity” and healed a leper. How does Jesus’ reaching out and touching the leper also demonstrate his great compassion and love for him? What impact do you think this touch by Jesus had on the leper apart from the healing?
- The meditation ends with these words: “On the cross, Jesus took upon himself the sickness of our sin and the banishment that we deserved. He bore them in his own body, cleansing us to be united with God. By Love’s wounds, we have been healed!” How would you describe the healing that Jesus has done in your life through the power of his Cross? As the opportunity arises, are you willing to share this with others who may need to understand what Jesus did for them though his death on the Cross? If not, why not?
- Take some time now to pray for the grace to know and experience more deeply the healing that Jesus desires to give you through the power of his Cross. Use the prayer at the end of the meditation as the starting point.