Barrier Breaker

We are on the last Sunday before the beginning of the Holy Season of Lent. The readings of today, for me, set us in the mood for one of the purposes that the season of Lent serves for us Christians: purifying our hearts from the leprosy of sin and lukewarmness.

Divine Compassion

In the Gospel passage today (Mark 1:40-45), it is the first time that the evangelist Mark (in his narrative) speaks of the compassion of Jesus. This image of the teacher who is moved by the leper’s condition is truly beautiful. It’s as if Jesus “loses control” in front of the pain of a man crushed by life and is unable to keep his feelings of compassion in check. Jesus is the concrete image of a passionate God, a Father with a maternal heart who loves his creatures with tenderness.

Many people have distanced themselves from God and the Church without having truly known the face of God revealed by Jesus. Many have rejected God because they feel He does not exist; a distant, far, cold, and aseptic God; a God concerned only with punishments and merits, with judgments and condemnations. However, this is a false image of God.

He Stretched Out His Hand and Touched Him

The master touches the “untouchable” and forever breaks the barrier between the pure and the impure. By touching him, Jesus reveals his desire to come into contact with the leper, with his pain, with his wound. Jesus is a barrier breaker: “For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall” (Eph. 2:14). No one had touched this leper for who knows how long and now he feels touched, loved; he regains contact with himself, with his body, with his identity. He is restored to the rest of the community. Everyone saw in him a living dead person, an outcast, a residue of humanity; but Jesus sees a loved creature, a man, and a brother.

Learning from Jesus

How much we still have to learn from Jesus, from his gaze and from his heart that trembles with passion. May his hand purify and shake us, and may his touch revive our rusty hearts, especially during our Lenten journey. May He continue to break every barrier between humanity and divinity (sin), between people and people (rancour), between brothers and brothers, sisters and sisters, etc.

Fr. John Bosco Obiako

Fr. JohnBosco Obiako is a priest of the Catholic Diocese of Orlu, Nigeria. He is a doctoral student of Philosophy at the Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome - Italy, with a special interest in Philosophy and Ethics of technology. He also provides spiritual and pastoral services as Chaplain to African Anglophone Catholic Community in the Diocese of Prato, Italy. Email contact: [email protected]

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