Peace and grace to all!
Both the first and second readings this weekend refer to how those suffering with the effects of sin should be treated. In the first reading, the individual with a sore is to present himself to the priest for inspection, and the priest is supposed to determine whether or not the individual is unclean. In those days, there was a lot of fear and concern for contagious diseases and due to that, there were many declared unclean and ostracized from the community even if they didn’t have leprosy. The people avoided them and shunned them–mostly out of fear and ignorance. This came at a time when the person afflicted needed support and assistance the most! Imagine if you got sick and as a result, everyone rejected you. Of course one of the allegorical meanings of leprosy is sin and in this case, it is a serious sin that separates someone from the life-giving presence of the community. The leper in the story has enough courage to approach Jesus and make a request in faith. When everyone else turned away, Jesus remained unafraid and compassionate. That is because Jesus did not come to condemn, but to save! Jesus came to be the bridge, the transcendence that crosses over the chasm that fear, ignorance and sin have brought into our lives. Fear, ignorance, bigotry, hardheartedness, isolation and marginalization are realities in the lives of people today. It includes the poor, the sick, the migrant, the addict, the prostitute, the post abortive, the abused, those of different cultures and faith traditions than our own, and those who do not yet understand the Gospel of Life. For many, there is an inclination to be hard of heart, reject and ostracize others who have a different perspective than our own; just look at Big Tech and the mainstream media. The challenge against such an attitude, is to not let the darkness take over our hearts and prevent us from reaching out to others. If we separate ourselves from the Church, we separate ourselves from Jesus and we cannot bring the healing that Jesus wants to work through us. It also requires us to be mature in our personal dispositions and faith so that we too may experience healing and grow in holiness. God bless you all! +++ Fr. Peter