By Sr Bernadette Mary Reis, fsp
“Jesus feels compassion” sums up the Pope’s reflection on the healing of the leper from the Gospel of Mark. Pope Francis explained the stigma of leprosy at Jesus’ time. “It was considered a serious impurity.” A leper’s “condition was particularly painful, because the mentality of the time made him feel impure before God and other people,” the Pope said. This is why the leper uses the words “If you want to, you can purify me!"
Jesus feels compassion
This cry provokes Jesus to feel compassion. It is important to pay attention to how Jesus resonates internally “as we did for a long time during the Jubilee Year of Mercy,” the Pope said. We can never understand Christ’s work or Christ himself unless we “enter His heart full of compassion.” For it is that compassion which prompts Jesus to touch the leper and say: "I want to: be cleansed!"
Jesus' touch purifies
That Jesus touches the leper is “the most disturbing fact”, Pope Francis continued. “Touching a leper meant you were infected, interiorly as well as spiritually.” Pope Francis then made an important observation: “In this case the impurity does not flow from the leper to Jesus to transmit the disease, but from Jesus to the leper to purify him.” Jesus’ compassion and audacity are admirable because he is consumed with “the desire to free that man from the curse that oppresses him.” In our case, it is “sin that makes us unclean.” So the Pope asked the crowd to pause and to beg the Lord for the gift of being cleansed from “the diseases of the heart from which we need to be cleansed, turning to Jesus like the leper did: ‘If you want to, you can cleanse me!’ "
Finally, the Pope reminded everyone that in the Sacrament of Reconciliation approached “with a repentant heart, the Lord repeats to us too: ‘I want to: be cleansed!’ Thus the leprosy of sin disappears, we return to live with joy our filial relationship with God and we are readmitted fully into the community.” And he concluded with a prayer asking the intercession of Mary to “heal our inner wounds with His infinite mercy, to give us back hope and peace in our hearts.”