• Sarah Raad


For Christ comes to us – even in the muck – how lucky are we for that!

I was watching a movie the other night on Netflix with my beautiful husband about a group of children in a remote village in India, who learn to skate. The movie, directed in 2021 by Manjani Makijari is called “Skater Girl”.

It was a nice enough film really, with an uplifting – though in my opinion a somewhat unrealistic – message about having the option to dream and follow one’s dreams. In the film, there were many very poor village children. These children were so poor that they often collected bits and pieces of rubbish and cobbled them together to make toys that they could use as improvised skateboards.

While we were watching that film, I was reminded of the Gospel that I had heard in Mass the other day. It was the story of Christ healing the leper… “A leper came to him and knelt before him, saying, ‘Lord, if You will, You can make me clean.’ And He stretched out His hand and touched Him, saying, ‘I will; be clean.’ And immediately his leprosy was cleansed. And Jesus said to him, ‘See that you say nothing to any one; but go, show yourself to the priest.’” (Matthew 8:1-4).

Today we have COVID-19 to contend with in most parts of the world, but in Christ’s day – and in the developing world today – they had far bigger problems and one of those problems was leprosy. Leprosy is a degenerative disease that can cause significant discomfort, physical deformity and even fatality if left untreated. Though it can be prevented by some very rudimentary practices in hygiene, like washing hands and wearing gloves while touching an infected area, it was so misunderstood in Christ’s day – and continues to be misunderstood in much of the developing world – that lepers were banished to colonies to live alone, away from healthy people. In Christ’s time, it was illegal for people affected by leprosy to come within a certain distance of other people who were not affected (the Biblical distance was measured as 4 cubits).

And then, we read that Gospel passage. A leper came out from the colony where he was supposed to be. He travelled – illegally and in danger of arrest or execution – to find Christ. And when he found Christ and begged for His help, Christ did what NOBODY in His world would ever do… He reached out His hand TOWARDS THE LEPER and touched him and made him clean.

To be honest, I am not sure what strikes me as the greater miracle – the curing of the leper, Christ’s loving compassionate touch, or Christ’s own continued good health following the encounter…

This compassion struck my heart dearly. For, it is one thing to see poverty and disease on the television and watch it in a film, but it is quite another thing to smell it and touch it in real life…

And God – our God – sees our poverty, which is caused by our own sin and He reaches out to us. God immerses Himself in it over and over again. My Beloved subjects Himself to my filth – the smell of it, the touch of it, the feel of it, the taste of it, the sound of it – because following my Baptism I am a Temple of the Holy Spirit, whether I chose to love and respect Him throughout my life or not.

I read a beautiful online meditation by an unknown priest the other day and in it, the priest wrote about a Polish priest called Father Jarek. Father Jarek went to Kazakhstan, which is a huge country between Asia and Europe, where rural Catholic families have been living for decades without priests (as there is a serious shortage of priests in the country). When Father Jarek visited one town, the townsfolk had him stop his car, placed him on a donkey and led him into the city, over pathways littered with roses crying, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” In that town was an old lady who had baptised every Catholic in that village and had taught them the Catechism. Seeing Father Jarek, she knelt at his feet and kissed them, crying “Welcome, Jesus Christ!” Father Jarek believed she was confused and tried to explain that he was a man and not Christ, but the old woman replied, “For the first time, you will say Mass in our village… for the first time in history… Jesus will be here!”

For Christ comes to us – even in the muck – how lucky are we for that!

For with prayer, I stand on Holy Ground where everything is clear. Here. At the Foot of the Cross.

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