By Father Andrew Kelly
The writer of Mark’s Gospel desired to deepen the faith of an already believing community. In Sunday’s Gospel (Mark 1:40-45) about the leper, the community sees itself in the story as being cleansed through believing in the Lord’s Scriptures, body and blood.
Believers remember when they first knelt in Jesus’ presence and begged: “If you choose, you can make me clean.”
Jesus was moved with pity at the spiritual plight and suffering of the believer. In English “moved with pity” can mean a simple feeling of compassion about a situation. But in the language of the Scriptures, the phrase means that the deepest level of Jesus’ soul (heart, guts) became agitated in response. If Jesus had such a reaction, that means that God also was feeling compassion at the depths of God’s being.
Then Jesus touched the leper. In the touch Jesus became unclean and totally identified himself with the leper. Jesus has touched and embraced every believer and has become one in the suffering and plight of all believers.
Through faith in Scriptures, body and blood, Jesus’ words and touch become Jesus’ words and touch to all believers who are now forever clean: “‘I do choose. Be made clean!”
(Father Andrew Kelly is pastor of St. Mary Parish in Mechanicsville.)