Jesus stretches out his hand to the quarantined, marginalized, excluded, unclean. His followers are to stretch out their hands to them, too.
The law asks quarantine for those with leprosy, though this may be no more than a skin eruption. And others should not touch them with their hands.
Is the law there for the sake of public health? This is what today’s quarantine and social distancing are for. Still, there is no lack of those who speak against such measures in the name of personal freedom (Pope Francis).
Or does ritual purity worry the priests more than the spread of the disease? One can only hope that those who serve at the altar do not turn worship into an idol or an “ideology,” as Pope Francis calls it.
But be it as it may, Jesus does not keep the letter of the law. For he stretches out his hand and touches the one who has just said, “If you wish, you can make me clean.”
The one who pleads on his knees does not only show humility, but also great faith and trusting hope. It could be that his ailment makes him taste chaos that those who long to belong cannot do without.
But why is there such faith and hope? No doubt, the love of the one who cures diseases and drives out demons has awakened them.
Disciples are to stretch out their hands, too, to the throwable and not clean.
Of course, I do not heal the sick or the possessed. I am not one of those whom people hail due to the wonders their hands work.
And yet, I and all Christians can stretch out our hands to those who are deemed throwable and not clean. We can do so since God has loved us first. For he sent us his Son who delivered himself into the hands of hangmen.
Hence, God equips us for love through the Holy Spirit. For through the Spirit, God has poured out his love into our hearts. That is to say, God hands over his love to us.
Our love, then, should show that God wants to save all. That Jesus wants to make clean the unclean, even at the risk of staying outside. But one can pray there and fast. And help, too, for even there do the poor go to ask for food or alms.
In the days when Jesus was in the flesh, his hands were God’s. Now that he has gone up to heaven, he has no hands but ours (St. Teresa of Jesus). Simone Weil says, too, that God does only what we cannot do. For he hands over to us what we can do. All the more reason we have, then, to help those in need.
Lord Jesus, we give you all the love in our heart, the thought in our mind, and the work of our hands (see SV.EN VIII:65). Make us one body, with no one left behind. For we share the one loaf and bless the same cup.
14 February 2021
6th Sunday in O.T. (B)
Lev 13, 1-2. 44-46; 1 Cor 10, 3 – 11, 1; Mk 1, 40-45