Lent: To a Compassion that Touches the Untouchable.
Rev. Denny Philip
Rev. Denny Philip
Carmel MTC, Boston MA
40 A leper came to him begging him, and kneeling he said to him, “If you choose, you can make me clean.” 41 Moved with pity, Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, and said to him, “I do choose. Be made clean!”
We have begun the great Lent, which we observe as a time to intensify our relationship with God and to extend our relationship to the world, following closely the life and death of Jesus. So the motto ‘Close to God, Open to the world’ seems to be appropriate for this season. Today’s passage gives us the insight and inspiration to be more close to Jesus to see the ‘compassion’ that moves Him and how that helps Him open to the world around. Compassion is not a mere feeling for Jesus. But it involves concrete stances and actions. Our meditation this morning will focus on the two expressions of compassion that moved Jesus.
1. Compassion that touches the untouchable: The pathetic situation of the leper is that on the one hand he is facing the pain and discomforts of the deadly disease and on the other hand he has been ostracized from the community due to the illness. He is denied access to community events or worship. Jesus is able to understand the intensity of pain he is undergoing. He is filled with compassion that overflows the boundaries and finds its expression as a touch. He touches the untouchable. The touch is so signifying to the leper. It is for such a warmth of relationship that he is yearning. He feels wanted and welcomed. The touch of compassion not only heals his body but quenches his emotional thirst. He is restored back to his people especially the worshipping community.
2. Compassion that touches the religious system: The leper comes and asked Jesus to make him clean and not to heal him. He was more affected with the uncleanliness attached to the illness than the physical ailments. It is not the illness that made him unclean but the interpretation of the purity codes in Leviticus (13-14) by the priests that made him unclean. So it is the religious system that understood and interpreted scripture in such a way that is responsible for the suffering that this person was going through. The touch extends to the religious system which requires it to be more humane. It initiated His journey to the cross and He was not able to go into a town openly (v.45).
May this help us to grow in compassion that feels the presence of Christ with the ‘outcasts’ and equip us to choose our stances.
Lord, give us the courage to be with You in the pain of others and be more humane in our attitudes. Amen.
THOUGHT FOR THE DAY:
Today, do we draw lines to stigmatize people through our reading of the scriptures?