October 9, 2016
Dear Parish Family,
From the gospel of Luke, we read the passage about Jesus curing ten lepers. In those days, being infected with leprosy was a terrible thing. It was a great suffering, not only for the consequences of the illness as such, but for the social consequences that a leper faced. As soon as a person was infected with leprosy, he/she was declared unclean by a priest. The person was forbidden from any public appearance and forced to live outside the city until he or she died. A leper was a person without any hope whatsoever.
Notice the details in the Gospel: as Jesus was entering a village, ten lepers met him. The lepers stood at a distance from Jesus and raised their voices saying, “Jesus, Master! Have pity on us!”
Out of compassion for the undignified life conditions, Jesus ordered them, “Go and show yourselves to
the priest.” And as they were going they were cleansed. The priest was the one who declared them unclean and so it will be the priest who will declare them clean. We may ask, in what way did Jesus’ healing miracle impact the lives of these ten men? First, they were free from leprosy. But even more important, they were allowed to come in and live in the city with their families and other people. They could enjoy the
security of being in the city. They were allowed to enter the temple and worship God. Jesus, therefore, cured their illness, restored their dignity and gave them their place back in society and the right to enter the temple for worship.
I think in our time, society is much better prepared to deal with people with contagious diseases than back in the time of Jesus. I remain though with Jesus’ act of mercy: restoring the ten lepers’ dignity. I think about the times I have gone to Confession. God cleansed me from my sins. It is like God removing something dirty from me which affects my dignity as a person. God restores our dignity in the sacrament of Confession. There are many other moments in which God restores our dignity and gives us back the place in our family and community which we deserve.
God bless you all.
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Rev. Johnson Lopez
Father Lopez is Pastor of Saint Patrick Catholic Church in Rochelle, IL.