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Jesus teaches us not to judge by appearance

Based on the Gospel of Mark 1:40-45

Again, Jesus heals by his touch. In this Sunday’s Gospel, a leper comes to Jesus, kneels before him and begs for help.

At the time Jesus lived, leprosy was widespread and highly contagious. This bacterial skin infection caused serious deformities such as facial features, limbs and fingers rotting away as well as giving off a terrible odor. Even worse, this disease was thought to be God’s punishment for the sin or sins the person committed.

The lepers were forced by law to leave their families and live in isolated “colonies” away from healthy relatives and townspeople. The living conditions were poor and filthy. The lepers felt lonely and unhappy because people were frightened by the way they looked and were afraid of infection. People would even throw stones at them if they came too close to town.

Jesus doesn’t judge the leper by the way he looks; he doesn’t turn away from the man. When the leper, confidently and humbly, asks him for help, Jesus is “moved with pity.” Jesus reaches out to him, touches him, and heals him. Instantly the leprosy disappears, his skin is clean, and the leper stands up completely healed. Jesus tells him not to publicize the healing and to go the priest who will perform the special rite verifying that the man is cured of leprosy and can reenter society and participate in temple worship.

Forgetting what Jesus told him about not telling anyone, and happy and excited about his healing, the leper goes about the countryside telling everyone. Because of this, it wasn’t possible “for Jesus to enter a town openly.” Now, “people kept coming to him from everywhere” for more miracles.

In this Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus teaches us to love, to be kind and compassionate to everyone, especially those whom others avoid because of poverty, illness, disability, deformity or because they may be different from us.

Lord Jesus, you show your love to everyone; teach us to love as you love. Help us to reach out to others, to recognize their needs, and to show them love, kindness, charity and compassion.