New Life Through Healing

    This weekend the Gospel, through the episode of Jesus' curing a leper, offers new life to each one of us and challenges us to seek for such life. In Jesus' time, the Jews considered leprosy as a dangerous disease. They believed that it was God's punishment for their grave sins. There were no medical treatments for this; only God could bring them back to normal life by forgiving their sins. To such a horrible state of the lepers, Jesus was moved with pity towards a leper who humbled himself and sought for healing. Jesus has shown this kind of pity and compassion on many other occasions. "When he saw the crowds he had compassion for them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd" (Mt 9: 36). The compassion Jesus showed to the leper challenges us to examine ourselves whether we are compassionate towards our own family members and neighbors who are sick or old?

    Some years ago, a man collapsed on a busy corner in downtown Brooklyn. Within minutes an ambulance rushed him to the nearest hospital. From time to time he would regain consciousness and call for his son. The attending nurse found an old letter in the man's wallet indicating that he had a son in the Marines. She called and asked him to come over immediately.

    Seeing a marine in the hall, the nurse took him to the man's bedside and whispered, "Your son is here." The old man opened his eyes and recognized the uniform though he could not recognize the face. Reaching out compassionately the young marine took the old man's hand and held it lovingly.

    Later, the nurse urged the young man to go out for something to eat and drink. He declined and asked for a chair, so he could sit by the old man's bedside to keep holding his hand.

    Just before dawn, the patient passed away. As the nurse extended her sympathy the young man asked, "Who is this man?" The nurse couldn't believe her ears. "Why?" she replied hesitantly, "Isn't he your father." "Quite honestly, nurse, my father died some time ago. I have never seen this man before in my life." "Then why did you not say something earlier?" asked the nurse. "I would have" answered the marine, "but I could see that he was too sick to realize that I wasn't his son. I decided to stay because I could also see that he was fading fast and needed the comfort of his son."

    Like the young marine, we also need to practice compassion by stretching out our hands to those who are in need. Compassion, which means sympathetic pity and concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others,' is a virtue that makes the love and concern of God a tangible reality for another human being in distress. The healing of a leper in the Gospel is an apt example of compassion and how Jesus' heart manifests God's parental compassion for that man as he moved close to him and touched him.

Lord Jesus, inflame our hearts with your love that we may never doubt your love nor cease to tell others of your mercy and compassion. Grant us new life as you granted to the leper in the Gospel.

    Let us practice the virtue of compassion in our lives.

In the Service of the Lord,
  Fr Thainese Alphonse


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