To prepare for Sunday Mass it is a good idea to read and give thought to the readings in your missal or Bible. Here are some questions to ponder. First Reading [Leviticus 13:1-2, 44-46] A leper in Jesus' time was rejected by society and regarded as being punished for sinfulness. Are some people treated in a similar way today? Second Reading [1 Corinthians 10:31-11:1] "Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God." In which of your day's activities is it easy for you to remember the presence of God? Which are hard? Gospel [Mark 1:40-45] "Moved with pity, Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him." In what ways can I stretch out to someone and touch them?
A puzzling thing in this Sunday's Gospel is that after healing a man, Jesus orders him quite sternly not to tell anyone, when obviously the man was dying to go and tell everyone what had happened. The difficulty Jesus was faced with was that people misunderstood the significance of his healing and too easily got caught up in the wow-factor, the magic, ignoring what was important, the deep compassion that Jesus felt.His reputation spread widely, but too often as a wonder-worker ignoring why he did it, that he felt for people in need of help. It got to the stage that he was telling people whom he healed not to talk about it because he realised that though they may even say he was the Messiah it would be with a complete misunderstanding of what Messiah meant. At one point people even wanted to make him King but, as he said, not because they understood the meaning of what he was doing, not in the wonder at the kindness of God, but simply because he could give them all the bread they wanted to eat.
When the gospels tell us how Jesus worked miracles of healing, they often record how he felt, heartbroken at seeing the funeral of the young man whose mother had already been widowed, in tears at the death of Martha's brother Lazarus, moved to pity for good people let down by the priests they trusted.
To feel the compassion of Christ is even more important than physical healing. Naturally enough, what often makes us turn to Christ in the first place may be serious illness and a feeling of helplessness. We have no one else to turn to. But in turning to Christ and begging for help, we experience the touch of Christ even without the immediate physical healing.