The First Reading from the Old Testament Book of Leviticus is a graphic description of how the Jews dealt with those afflicted with leprosy. The “unclean” were separated from the Community; a metaphor of how sin may separate us from God. We know, however, that Jesus restores us to ‘health’ since his Passion, Death and Resurrection heals us all from sin and death. He is the ultimate healer of spirits and souls, hearts and minds.
St. Paul tells us to be imitators of Christ and to “do everything for the glory of God.” We all know that doing the “right” things can make us feel better! As believers, we know we must strive to be Christ-like; this is the call of discipleship—and Christ is the model for a healing touch in the world.
Today’s Gospel story is about the leper who begs Jesus to heal him. Our Lord, in pity and mercy, heals him with a touch of His hand. (Fr. Kevin spoke about touch in the stories he told in his homily last weekend!) We all have times when we need to ask for healing of one sort or another; and we all have times in which healing is asked of us. We are Christ’s hands in the world, and may give healing touches where they are needed.
Even in the Liturgy itself there are many times that we use touch: the sign of peace, the joining of hands while reciting The Lord’s Prayer, the Sacrament of the Sick, the laying on of hands (Confirmation), the signing of candidates with the cross in the Rite of Acceptance into the Order of Catechumans, the joining of hands in the Rite of Marriage, the washing of feet in the Mass of the Lord’s Supper. Any of these various ‘touches’ may be a way for someone to experience God’s grace through you.
This Ash Wednesday our Lenten journey begins. We will fast from the Gloria and from Alleluias. There are other signs in our worship to help remind us of our search for inward conversion: Lenten liturgical purple is used to represent reconciliation; there are no flowers and green plants in the Sanctuary so we may experience the desert journey of Lent. We can only pray that this Lenten Season will touch us with the healing we yearn for in our spirit and life.
- Elizabeth Dyc