The gospel is about a leper. The first reading is also about a leper. What struck me is the spelling of the word “leper”. We spell it as L-E-P-E-R. When you spell it backwards it becomes R-E-P-E-L – or repel.
The first reading and the gospel today are not really only about lepers. They actually refer to people we repel. The Lord could have healed the leper from a distance. But the Lord chose to heal the leper by touching him.
The lesson of the readings today is that we must help, yes, but we must also be ready to touch one another’s life. I can confidently say that the Church in the Philippines, and particularly our community here at EDSA Shrine, never runs out of brothers and sisters who want to help. What we lack are people who not only help but also stay close to the people they are helping. Many of us would rather issue a check in favor of a charitable institution provided the smelly squatters do not touch our faces and our noses. What would you think of a doctor who would just issue prescriptions but is not even concerned about you? How about a doctor who attempts to cure you but does not care for you? What do you think of parents who have unruly children and who would just tell their children: “Alright, just go and watch T.V. and do not bother me.” What do you think of parents with undisciplined children, who would just give money to their children and say: “Go spend your time in the recreation center so you will not disturb me.”? What do you think of a husband, tired of his nagging wife, would just give her his credit card and say: “Go and do your shopping so that we will not see each other” What do you think of a wife who allows her husband to go on overtime, day after day? Then, night after night, she just allows her husband to go on a drinking spree? That’s, better so that when he comes home I am asleep and when he leaves in the morning, I am still asleep.” No talk. No quarrels.
It is not enough that we are not quarreling. It is not enough that we are helping. We must make sure that the people who need our help are also touched by our love, care and concern. That is what the world needs now.
The lepers in the Philippines are in Palawan. The lepers of Metro Manila are in Tala. But the repels, the people that we have rejected, people we cannot accept, people we keep at a distance, are perhaps, the people standing or seated beside us. They are those who eat with us on the same table or even share a common roof with us.
The Lord did not come here only to cure. The Lord came here to care for the repels of the society in which He lived. The Lord did not come here to cure the lepers but He came here to accept and take back the rejects of society. It is very easy to help, provided people are at a safe distance. It is very easy to say, “I will heal provided you will not stay close to me because otherwise, I would be uncomfortable.” A Christian ought not to be satisfied with curing. A Christian must care for the lepers of our society and for those we would like to repel
Jesus In My Heart