(2 Kings 5:14-17; Psalm 98:1-4; 2 Timothy 2:8-13; Luke 17:11-19)
Allowing Jesus to Heal us of Spiritual Leprosy
Jesus, Master! Have pity on us! (Luke 17:13)
Until recently, a diagnosis of leprosy was a death sentence—a long, slow sentence marked by physical deformity, social isolation, poverty, and despair. Until recently, lepers were shunned by their families and communities for fear of contamination. It was assumed that their disease was a mark of spiritual impurity.
Before his conversion, when Francis of Assisi would pass the house of a leper, he would hold his nose in disgust. But one day upon seeing a leper, he dismounted his horse and ran to embrace the man. “What had previously nauseated me,” he wrote, “was turned into sweetness of soul and body.” According to Pope Benedict XVI, “Jesus healed Francis of his leprosy, that is, his pride,” on that day.”
While leprosy is now treatable, there are so many “conditions” today—illnesses, lifestyles, habits, or addictions—that can leave people isolated. And like Francis, our pride can keep us at a safe distance from them. Perhaps we fear that by getting too close, we’ll be seen as accepting their stigma, or we will be associated with “those kind of people.” But very often it’s “those kind of people” who reveal the kind of people we are.
Jesus reached out not only to lepers but to every other person who lived on the margins. He saw them as treasures, as people created in God’s own image. Despite the customs and norms of the day, he sought out such people and treated them with dignity and kindness. And he did this as an example to all of us.
Look around today. No doubt at least one opportunity will arise for you to do likewise: to welcome the foreigner, to feed the poor, to visit the sick, or to show kindness to the outcast. As you do, you too will see your own version of “leprosy” turned into sweetness of soul.
“Lord, give me your heart of humility so that I too may embrace the outcasts among us.”
(Many thanks to The Word Among Us (www.wau.org) for allowing us to use meditations from their monthly devotional magazine. Used with permission. The Word Among Us Mass Edition contains all the readings and a meditation for each of the daily and Sunday Masses.)
Questions for Reflection/Discussion
In the first reading, Naaman, an army commander from Aram, is healed of leprosy through the prophet Elisha. Why do you believe his healing caused Naaman to turn from false gods to the true God and Lord? Do you believe that God still heals today? Why or why not? In your own life, were there any
times you were healed by God or witnessed God’s healing? What impact did it have on you?
The response in the responsorial psalm is, “The Lord has revealed to the nations his saving power.” What is the difference between God’s healing power and his saving power? How have you personally experienced the Lord’s saving power?
In the second reading, we hear these words: “But if we deny him he will deny us. If we are unfaithful he remains faithful, for he cannot deny himself” (2 Timothy 2:12-13). What do you think these words
mean? How do they apply to you personally?
In the Gospel, why do you believe only one of the ten lepers who were healed glorified God and came back to praise and thank Jesus? How does this story apply to you? For example, how often do you spend time in prayer praising and thanking God for the many blessings you have received from him? How often do you take time to praise and thank the Lord for saving you from sin and eternal separation from him? What steps can you take to become more like the one leper who returned?
In the meditation, we hear these words: “Jesus reached out not only to lepers but to every other person who lived on the margins. He saw them as treasures, as people created in God’s own image. Despite the customs and norms of the day, he sought out such people and treated them with dignity and kindness. And he did this as an example to all of us.” What are some new ways you can follow Jesus’ example and reach out to the marginalized with “dignity and kindness”?
Take some time now to pray and ask the Lord give you a heart like his for those who are considered “outcasts.” Use the prayer at the end of the meditation as a starting point.