Pope Benedict XVI reflected on the Sunday Gospel (Mk 1.40 to 45) in which Jesus heals a leper who begs him. "Jesus - says the pontiff - is not immune to contact with this man, indeed, driven by intimate participation in his condition, he stretches out his hand and touches it - overcoming the legal ban - and says: I do will it. Be made clean!' .In that gesture and the words of Christ is the whole history of salvation, there is embodied the will of God to heal, to cleanse us from evil that disfigures and destroys our relationship with Him. In that contact between the hand of Jesus and the leper all barriers between God and human impurities were knocked down, between the sacred and its opposite, not to deny the evil and its negative force, but to show that the love of God is stronger than any evil, even of the most contagious and horrible. Jesus took upon himself our infirmities; he became 'leper' that we may be purified“.
The pope then added a "existential comment ", taken from the life of St. Francis of Assisi as told in his Testament: " The Lord gave to me, Brother Francis, thus to begin to do penance; for when I was in sin it seemed to me very bitter to see lepers, and the Lord Himself led me amongst them and I showed mercy to them. And when I left them, that which had seemed to me bitter was changed for me into sweetness of body and soul. And afterwards I remained a little and I left the world. ".
He added: "In those lepers who met Francis when he was still 'in sin', Jesus was present, and when Francis approached one of them, and, overcoming his revulsion, embraced him, Jesus healed him of his leprosy, that is, his pride, and converted him to the love of God is the victory of Christ, which is our deep healing and our resurrection to new life. "
The Pope concluded with an invitation to remember the appearances of the Virgin Mary at Lourdes (yesterday was the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes). "Dear friends, let us turn in prayer to the Virgin Mary, whom we celebrated yesterday by the memory of her apparitions at Lourdes. Our Lady gave a timeless message to St. Bernadette: the call to prayer and penance. Through his mother it is always Jesus who comes to us, to deliver us from all sickness of body and soul. Let us allow ourselves to be touched and purified by Him and we show mercy to our brothers and sisters. "