GOD’S WORD FOR THE DAY – 12TH JANUARY 2017
GOD’S WORD FOR THE DAY (based on Catholic Liturgical Readings)
DATE: 12TH JANUARY 2017
THURSDAY OF THE FIRST WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME
FIRST READING: Hebrews 3:7-14
PSALM: Psalm 95:6-11
GOSPEL: Mark 1:40-45
THEME: HE TOUCHED ME
A missionary shared with me an encounter he had with a stinky dirty man on the streets who walked over to him one day and requested to have a word with him. His first impression upon seeing such a person was one of prejudice – here comes another beggar looking for money. Although he was in a hurry, for some reason, he chose to spare some few minutes with the man. As he listened to his story, the missionary realised that he had been hasty in his judgement and that the deepest need of the person before him was not money but love – he was a victim of stigmatisation. The missionary stood up and requested for an embrace. At that moment the man broke down in tears and said, “I do not remember the last time someone touched me.”
Lepers, in the world of the Bible, were considered ritually unclean (cf. Lev. 13:1-8). Consequently, they were kept away from the rest of society so that they would not infect those who are “clean” with their uncleanness (cf. Lev. 13:45-46). To touch a leper is to incur ritual uncleanness.
In our Gospel text, a beggar comes to Jesus, kneels before him and begs, “If you are willing, you can make me clean” (Mk. 1:40). The narrator then speaks of an inner movement that takes place in Jesus and overflows in an outward action – “And moved with compassion, he stretched out his hand, and touched him, and said to him, ‘I am willing; be cleansed’” (Mk. 1:41).
The stretching out of hands and subsequent touching of the leper was preceded by “compassion.” The Greek word translated as “compassion” in the text is no mere fleeting emotion. It is something that moves you to act. It gives ‘feet and hands to love’.
There are many people out there who find themselves in shoes similar to that of the leper in our text. These are people who are generally referred to as the marginalised. Moral weakness, sickness, poverty and other militating forces have left these men and women in the margins of society. We see them on our streets, in our neighbourhoods and churches. Unfortunately, some of us judge them without giving them a hearing. We choose to avoid and leave them to handle their own problems. Many of such persons are hurting inside and long to be liberated.
We cannot claim to be followers of Christ if we close our eyes to the pain of our brothers and sisters, created in the image of God but distorted by the harsh reality of earthly existence. The Gospel of today invites us to be agents of love and change. Let us put a smile on the face of someone today. Let compassion move us into action.
PRAYER: Lord Jesus, you touched me when I needed it most. May your Spirit move me to touch someone today. Amen
Andrews Obeng, svd
DIVINE WORD MISSIONARIES
BIBLICAL PASTORAL MINISTRY
“May the darkness of sin and the night of unbelief vanish before the light of the Word and the Spirit of grace. And may the heart of Jesus live in the hearts of all people” (St. Arnold Janssen).