Fr Jim Nolan

We need to hold our nerve when we place our hands under the sanitizer as we pray for protection from the pandemic Covid 19. We must surely admit to the truth of science whilst belief also in the healing hand of our Saviour. As outlined in today's Gospel Mark 1:40-45 ‘If you want to’ he said ‘you can cure me.’ ‘Of course I want to’ he said, ‘be cured.’

The hand of God who provides oxygen for our survival takes the leprosy and sins of the many upon himself as he portrays himself as the healer, the miracles are a pre-figuring of the suffering he is about to undergo, bringing restoration and salvation to the multitude. The cross is the hallmark of his ministry.

Too often we let our minds crash out while neglecting the remedy of entering into the inner heart of stillness, raising our eyes to heaven, ridding our hearts of selfishness, making room within to accommodate the purifier. “Therefore, since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God” (2 Cor 7:1).

As a believing people we acknowledge the supremacy of religion over science, that the hand of God is the beginning and end of all that exists, but when the hand of Jesus was stretched out to touch the leper the gesture must have scarred him as Jesus was incurring defilement of the Law – but Jesus didn’t catch the defilement, instead the leper was infected with Jesus’ purity – likewise we the sinners are infected by the redeeming of humankind on the cross – we are cleansed. “For these and all my sins I am truly sorry”. Repentance brings a song to our hearts and lips; the vibration of heartfelt contrition and absolution is a silent transaction between God and us.

The infected leper lives in all of us and that is why we need to go to the super-cleaner Jesus.

St. Francis wrote in his last testament that it was the Lord who had led him to the leper, while he was in sin, the sight of lepers nauseated him beyond measure. God led Francis into their company and he had pity on them. He dismounted his horse and kissed the leper and after re-mounting he looked all around and he could see no-one and it dawned on him later that it was Jesus whom he had kissed.

Not unto us O Lord, not unto us, but to thy name be the glory.