By Sem. Tristan Ralf Q. Pacheco
On the very first time I had read the Gospel for today, what struck me was the attitude of the leper whom Jesus healed. Upon healing him, Jesus strictly requested the man not to tell others, except the priest about his being healed. But instead he publicized the whole matter which has made it impossible for Jesus to enter a town openly. What an ungrateful action he manifested. I decided to read it once more and instead of concentrating on the man, I tried to focus more on our Lord’s attitude. What captivated me on my second reading of the passages were these words: “moved with pity”. Pity is the word used in this version of the Gospel but after checking other translations, the word “compassion” was used.
I was humbled when I realized how thoughtless I was to just focus on a bad detail of the story and put my judgment on the man by condemning his actions, while our Lord has shown compassion to him. Isn’t it, that I am much worse than the man in terms of ingratitude? How many times have I been shown love, graciousness and compassion by our Lord but still turned my back from Him and became stubborn and self-centered? How many times have I proved myself ungrateful for all the blessings He has given me?
Yet the Gospel reading reminds me that Jesus is compassionate. There are many instances where Jesus showed compassion. All his miracles were compelled by compassion. Compassion definitely is the main expression of His love. It is not surprising that Pope Francis has written an encyclical entitled: “Misericordiae Vultus” (“The Face of God is Mercy”)
How can we fear and not love such a God who is rich in compassion? His compassion knocks us off our feet and challenges us to be compassionate also.
THE GOSPEL TODAY
A leper came to him and kneeling down begged him and said,
“If you wish, you can make me clean.”
Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand,
touched the leper, and said to him,
“I do will it. Be made clean.”
The leprosy left him immediately, and he was made clean.
Then, warning him sternly, he dismissed him at once.
Then he said to him, “See that you tell no one anything,
but go, show yourself to the priest
and offer for your cleansing what Moses prescribed;
that will be proof for them.”
The man went away and began to publicize the whole matter.
He spread the report abroad
so that it was impossible for Jesus to enter a town openly.
He remained outside in deserted places,
and people kept coming to him from everywhere.