The Bible’s version of the homeless, and dirty beggars of today is none other than the LEPER. He, too, was avoided and despised because his scourge carried the stigma of sin and divine punishment. The Old Testament reading today advised people on how to isolate the leper in society. To be a leper in the Jewish society of Jesus’ time was not a pleasant but a most dreadful and painful experience. It must have been a real shock for people to see that their respected prophet and teacher not only conversed with a leper but also moved by that encounter, “touched” him and healed him. And it must have been the highlight of this man’s life to be regarded again as important by a fellow human being. In his ministry, Jesus would repeatedly defy societal restrictions and extend his love to lepers and to other castaways of his time.

Here we see the distinction of Jesus’ approach to the marginalized of society. In his heart there was no reservation towards anyone. His heart was truly open, accommodating and compassionate to all who needed him. In doing this, the Lord did not listen to conventions but only to his Father, whose warm, pulsating heart craved to embrace the poor and the suffering. In our lives today, we rarely meet lepers. I don’t even remember being in the presence of one. As for the dirty, homeless poor, we occasionally meet them but our encounters are as fleeing as they come. But surely we have our own version of lepers in our lives. There are people we refuse to acknowledge as our equals, the ones we consciously ignore and whose presence we loathe. To us, they are “non-persons.”

Just think of your enemies. How long have you decisively refused to have any contact with the people who hurt you in the past? And then there are people who are truly needy among us whose experience spark the littlest interest within us, like the victims of various calamities for whom we give some money at the second collection on Sunday Masses. The Gospel challenges us to adopt the same mind that was in Christ. Are we willing to be moved by others’ experiences? Are we ready to touch them with our hands and love them in our hearts? This week, let us resolve to love the lepers of our lives. And may Jesus help us to boldly take the first step.

This Sunday is World d Day of the Sick and World Marriage Day. Let us pray for the sick in our Parish and for all married couples. On Monday, it is Lincoln’s birthday. On the 14th, it is Ash Wednesday and a day obligatory for Fasting and Abstinence for all practicing Catholics in the Church. It is also Valentine’s Day for all lovers. On Friday it is Chinese New Year 4716. By this time I am back from annual vacation. This is all for now, watch for the nest bulletin. God Bless!

Your Priest-Servant and Parochial Administrator,

Fr. Reggie