A leper came to him begging him, and kneeling he said to him, “If you choose, you can make me clean.” Moved with pity, Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, and said to him, “I do choose. Be made clean!”
Immediately the leprosy left him, and he was made clean. After sternly warning him he sent him away at once, saying to him, “See that you say nothing to anyone; but go, show yourself to the priest, and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.”
But he went out and began to proclaim it freely, and to spread the word, so that Jesus could no longer go into a town openly, but stayed out in the country; and people came to him from every quarter.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
In the religious culture of Jesus’ day, it was strictly forbidden for a healthy person to touch a leper. Not only did it expose a healthy person to contagion—and by extension, expose his or her community—it also rendered him or her ritually unclean. The healthy person was ostracized by the frightened community until he or she submitted to extensive purification rites.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus did not have to touch the leper in order to cure him, but he did anyway. That simple act expressed his love for the man far more profoundly than a miraculous healing by itself ever could. In effect, Jesus was saying, “We’re in this together. And we’re going to get out of it together.”
Little things make all the difference.
Love consists in a mutual communication between two persons. That one who loves gives and communicates to the beloved what he or she has, or a part of what one has or can have; and the beloved in return does the same to the lover.
—St. Ignatius of Loyola, Spiritual Exercises #231