January 14, 2016 (Thursday)

St. Felix of Nola

Thursday of the First Week

1 Sm 4:1-11 • Ps 44 • Mk 1:40-45



40A leper came to him and kneeling down begged him and said, “If you wish, you can make me clean.” 41Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand, touched him, and said to him, “I do will it. Be made clean.” 42The leprosy left him immediately, and he was made clean. 43Then, warning him sternly, he dismissed him at once. 44Then he said to him, “See that you tell no one anything, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer for your cleansing what Moses prescribed; that will be proof for them.” 45The man went away and began to publicize the whole matter. He spread the report abroad so that it was impossible for Jesus to enter a town openly. He remained outside in deserted places, and people kept coming to him from everywhere.


The evangelist Mark describes a very human Jesus: he is “moved with pity” for the man suffering from leprosy. This pity is not a mere feeling but is a solicitous concern expressed in Jesus’ act of reaching out and touching the leper, considered “unclean” by Jewish society. In fact, a bell is tied to a leper’s right ankle to announce his coming, a warning for people to go away from him.

Defying this practice, Jesus reaches out to the leper, touches him, and says, “Be made clean.” While others avoid the leper, Jesus approaches him with consoling and healing words. Jesus does not discriminate or ostracize people marginalized by society; instead, he restores their dignity.

Jesus challenges us to have compassion for those considered “unclean” by others and to reach out to them with his attitude to the leper.

“Be merciful, just as [also] your Father is merciful” (Lk 6:36).

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