Saint Thomas of Canterbury, Bolton

Stay with us, Lord, on our journey

Cycle B

Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time


 Mark 1:40-45

"He stretched out…and touched him"

Leprosy in the time of Jesus was not just a dreaded disease. It was considered to be a curse from God, a punishment for sin. The religious mentality of the time said that only terrible sinners could be afflicted with such a disease. Not only were they and all that they touched presumed to be physically contagious, they were also seen as morally unclean and spiritually contaminating. To avoid the risk of making others unclean, they were banished from normal society, forced to dwell in isolated places and obliged to shout a warning of their 'unclean' condition to anyone approaching.

Today we hear of a leper who threw aside all of these restrictions; he approached Jesus and virtually challenged him: "If you want to ..." He accepts that Jesus has the power to heal him, but has he the desire to cross the boundaries of the unclean? In response, Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him. With that touch and his word Jesus healed him of his leprosy. But more than that, with that touch he broke through the taboos of fear, rejection and religious prescription that had surrounded and isolated the leper. With that compassionate touch he rescued him from his dreadful isolation from those he loved; he brought him back into communion with his own.

The same Jesus reaches out now, seeking to touch each of us, wanting to rescue us from the isolation of our own sinfulness, longing to break through the barriers that close us in on ourselves, and yearning to draw us into communion with him and with each other in him. He also desires that we who have been touched by his love should reach out to others in his name so that he may have the opportunity to reach out to them in turn and so bring them too into communion with him and with all who call upon his name.