Thursday of the First Week in Ordinary Time
(Hebrews 3:7-14; Mark 1:40-45)
Most have heard that leprosy in the Bible is not to be equated with modern, disastrous leprosy. In Scripture leprosy is a mild, infectious skin ailment. Yet lepers in Scripture are isolated and their officially attested before reintegration. Interestingly, Jesus does not fear confronting the disease in today’s gospel.
Mark describes Jesus as fearless as the leper imposes himself on him. The leper comes up to him. Jesus then touches the leper to remedy his infection. Now Jesus is contaminated while the leper is cured. Mark does not say that Jesus has contracted the disease, but he does note that Jesus becomes isolated. News of the cure confines him to “deserted places.” But the people don’t care. More cogent than the need to avoid contamination is their desire to see this divine messenger.
This past year has been a long lesson on infectious diseases and how to prevent their spreading. We know that we should keep apart from anyone with whom we do not live. Jesus’ touching the leper should not move us to defy this convention. But it should inspire us to go to Jesus with our ailments. Mentally of physically troubled, we will find in Jesus a resolution to our problem.