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Thursday, January 13, 2011

Today's Reflection: Out of love and compassion, Jesus heals us

Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand, touched the leper, and said to him, "I do will it. Be made clean."
 Today's gospel scene brings to our hearts the depth of Christ's love for all of us. It revealed to everyone that we have a God in Christ Who is truly authentic in His desire to care for all of us. He showed everyone how unconventional loving and caring should be among His people. That our love for our neighbor should never be fixed within the confines of a designed framework or program but one that extends to what is difficult to do, one that needs our total commitment, one that is almost impossible to pursue.

By what Jesus witnessed to us, He exhorts every believer to love one's neighbor with the kind of love that is not only true and deep but one that will be enough to move one into action, one that flows into mercy and compassion. He wants us to love our neighbor as He did, without any reservation and totally selfless, a love that totally considers the present need and predicament of our neighbor.

Jesus healed a leper by touching him, a very meaningful act of love and compassion on a man who by law was barred from ever touching anyone again. To be near a leper was beyond peoples' minds then, and even today. Lepers have practically been banished from society that no one would even dare come close to them, not even within reasonable distance. With their sores, dirty and contaminated bodies, lepers are the last persons man would want to touch.

To touch a leper is quite unthinkable up to this present time, yet the first thing Jesus did was to touch him. Jesus touched him, healed him and made him whole. Even before Jesus could respond to the plea of the leper, Jesus Who was moved with pity, stretched out his hand, touched the leper and said: "I do will it. Be cured." That is the kind of love Jesus has for us, one that flows into mercy and compassion, one that is authentic enough to make Him accept death on the Cross-for the salvific benefit of sinners and not the righteous.

Today, let us follow the great example of Jesus by showing love and compassion to someone we find hard to relate to, not only because of their physical deficiencies but also due to what we have perceived as their sinfulness and brokenness.

What do we do when we see that a man encounter adverse situations… when his words and actions do not seem to fit a Christian? Do we show him our love and minister to him? Do we walk with him in Christ and try our very best to restore him and bring him closer to our Lord? Or do we make his life even worst by back biting on him and destroying his image within God’s flock? Or do we remain indifferent to him and rationalize our actions by saying I have better things to do for my family and community, than involve myself with such person?

In relationships within community, family and office is there a "leper" God wants us to touch with our loving care, understanding and compassion? Have we taken a ten-foot pole to shield ourselves …to ensure that we are at a safe distance from the person? What about the pastoral care we have always talked about?

‘“Harden not your hearts as at the rebellion in the day of testing in the desert… Take care, brothers and sisters, that none of you may have an evil and unfaithful heart, so as to forsake the living God. Encourage yourselves daily while it is still “today,” so that none of you may grow hardened by the deceit of sin. We have become partners of Christ if only we hold the beginning of the reality firm until the end.”’

Lord have mercy on me if I have not been faithful to your word whenever I encounter a leper in my daily interactions at work and in community… if I have been cold and indifferent to them. Forgive me for taking another road whenever a leper comes my day. Give me the grace, the strength and the courage to touch with your love those I have seen and considered as the “lepers” in my life. Open my heart and make me your vessel in bringing your love to them.

Direction
Our love and compassion for our neighbor should go beyond our words and be evidenced in our actions.

Prayer
Heavenly Father, give me the grace to find ways to express love and compassion on those who are hurting and are in need of your healing touch. In Jesus, I pray. Amen.
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