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posted 10 Feb 2018, 06:14 by Our Lady of Fatima Church - White City London   [ updated 10 Feb 2018, 06:14 ]


Throughout human history leprosy has been one of the most feared diseases – a kind of living death. Often the only solution was for the leper to be segregated from the rest of society – forced to leave their family and friends and live outside of the community in case they transmitted the disease to others. Perhaps the psychological, spiritual and emotional suffering was as bad as the physical suffering. To make matters worse, leprosy was seen as a punishment for sin and so lepers were judged to have brought this on themselves.

As we hear in our first reading from the Book of Leviticus in the time of Moses, a leper had to cry aloud “Unclean, unclean” when they came near to people as a warning. Imagine how totally humiliating that must have been. Not much seems to have changed by the time of Jesus as we hear in today’s Gospel when a leper approaches Jesus. Nevertheless his strong faith in Jesus’ healing power gives him the courage to fall on his knees before Jesus and plead: “if you want to, you can cure me.” Jesus’ response is beautiful: “Of course I want to -be cured!” Perhaps more powerful than his words is the fact that Jesus also reached out and touched the leper physically – something which according to the law of Moses would make him unclean himself. The result of this is that while the cured leper is now free to go wherever he likes, Jesus is condemned to stay outside the community as the one who is now seen as unclean.

This Wednesday is Ash Wednesday, which of course marks the beginning of our Lenten journey. The story of Jesus’ encounter with the leper takes us to the heart of what Lent is all about. Firstly we see how Jesus wants to come into our lives to heal us from all that separates us from God and from each other. He wants to make us clean again. Secondly we see that he does this by taking our sins upon himself – thus taking our place so that we might be free once again. May we, like the leper, come humbly before Jesus and ask him to cure us of our sin and restore us to spiritual health. May Lent be a time of healing for us all.

With blessings and prayers from Fr Richard, Fr Ephrem & the parish team.