Today’s Gospel passage (cf. Mk 1:40-45) presents to us the healing of a man afflicted with leprosy, a disease that in the Old Testament was considered a grave impurity and required the leper to be separated from the community: they lived in isolation. His condition was truly pitiful, because the mind-set of the time made him feel unclean even before God, and not only before mankind. Even before God. Therefore the leper of the Gospel beseeches Jesus with these words: “If you will, you can make me clean” (v. 40).
Upon hearing this, Jesus feels pity (cf. v. 41). It is very important to pay attention to this inner resonance of Jesus. We cannot understand the works of Christ, we cannot understand Christ himself, if we do not enter his compassionate and merciful heart. And this is what spurs him to stretch out his hand to that man afflicted with leprosy, to touch him and say to him: “I will (it); be clean” (v. 40). The most shocking fact is that Jesus touches the leper, because that was absolutely prohibited by Mosaic law. Touching a leper meant being infected even inside, in the spirit, that is, becoming unclean. But in this case the influence flows not from the leper to Jesus so as to transfer the contagion, but actually from Jesus to the leper so as to grant him purification. In this healing, apart from Jesus’ compassion and mercy, we admire his audacity. He is concerned neither about the contagion nor about the rules, but is moved only by the will to free that man from the curse that burdens him.
Brothers and sisters, no disease is a cause of impurity: disease certainly involves the whole person, but in no way does it impair or impede his or her relationship with God. On the contrary, a sick person can be even more united with God. Instead, sin: that yes, is what makes us unclean! Selfishness, arrogance, entering the world of corruption: these are diseases of the heart from which we need to be purified by turning to Jesus like the leper: “If you will, you can make me clean!”
And now, let each of us think about our own heart, look within ourselves, and see our own impurities, our own sins. And may each of us say to Jesus: “If you will, you can make me clean”. And each time we approach the Sacrament of Reconciliation with a contrite heart, the Lord also repeats to us: “I will (it); be clean!” How much joy there is in this! In this way the leprosy of sin is overcome; we return to joyfully experience our filial relationship with God and we are fully readmitted into the community.