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Be the Change You Want to See in the World

Leprosy - Leprosy, or Hansen’s disease, still exists in our world, and those who suffer are isolated, feared and shunned. Yet, there is hope with modern medicine and those who once suffered can take their place in life.

A New Leprosy - Each day we are presented with our modern “lepers”. We are invited to judge them for their public and shameful misdeeds. Society wants them locked away forever. We sit smugly in judgement. If we scapegoat them, then the implication is that society is being cleansed, and that we are the sinless ones. Somehow, we offer them less hope than those who suffer with Hansen’s disease.

A New Teaching - Today, a leper, “with his hand over his mouth” meets Jesus– perhaps the man’s mouth was disfigured, perhaps he did not want to infect Jesus. He pleads with Jesus. “If you want to, you can heal me!” Jesus said: “Of course I want to, be healed!”

Leprosy is not Just Skin Deep - Jesus did not want him to tell anyone. Why? Because the people would all come for a cure of their common symptoms. Jesus wants it to be a deeper healing. If he had gone to the priest, then that deep inner leprosy of the heart, which is original sin, and from which we all suffer, would be addressed.

“We lepers” - When Fr. Damien of Molokai, ministered among people suffering with leprosy he addressed them one day as “we lepers” after he himself had contracted the illness. Unknowingly, perhaps, he was saying we all share an inner illness of the soul, a leprosy, which could consume us.

Lent a time to address my own sins and weakness - Mahatma Gandhi famously said, “You must be the change you want to see in the world.” I can only change myself. Lent is the time to do just that.

A Lenten Resolution - Lent begins again this coming Ash Wednesday. Jesus will take our weak human nature on a test drive through the deserts of modern-day living. We know he overcomes temptation on our behalf but we must do the journey with him. Make a resolution to change that one hidden weakness deep within you, that something which keeps you in constant ‘dis-ease’. Follow Jesus’s instruction and don't tell anyone. Make your resolution consist of two words, make it single, precise and possible. For example, ‘don’t judge’, ‘pray first’, ‘forgive now’, ‘let go’.

Fr Michael McCullagh C.M.


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