On these Sundays in Ordinary Time, the first reading and the Gospel are connected, with each serving to enrich our understanding of the other. Today’s first reading from Leviticus provides cultural and religious context of skin diseases like leprosy. According to Leviticus, skin diseases, as well as scars and burns, render persons unclean. The sick person was marginalized from the community. In today’s Gospel, the sick man approaches Jesus for healing. Jesus touches him and heals him, not only restoring his health, but allowing him to return to the life of the community.
Whenever I read this part of Mark’s gospel, I am often drawn to phrases like, “moved with pity.” Last Sunday, Fr. Breck described the “tender moment” when Jesus took the hand of Peter’s mother-in-law and healed her. The week before, Jesus healed the man plagued with an unclean spirit. These are not simply stories of physical healing, but they remind us that Jesus – fully human and fully divine – restores us in our relationships.
In this “Year of the Mask” we have become painfully aware of the importance of relationships in our lives. Being isolated from one another has given us a sense of what it is like to live on the margins of society. Perhaps our call today is to look with compassion on those who don’t “fit in” – whether due to physical affliction or economic circumstances or social challenges. God’s hand is always outstretched to us. May we place our trust in Jesus, just as the man in today’s gospel, confident that he can heal us and restore us in community.
Happy Valentine's Day!
Director of Liturgy and Music, St. Mary Magdalene