Kalaupapa was a remote peninsula, surrounded by the roaring Pacific Ocean, on three sides on an island named Molokai.
This tiny place had become the prison for those forcibly banished as a result of being afflicted with Hansen’s Disease (Leprosy).
The souls outcast here became prisoners in their own land, harshly kicked from boats, washing onto shore without adequate supplies, infrastructure, medicine, or tools.
>> Families on surrounding islands, powerless to help, mourned for the cruel fate of their loved ones.
In this situation, a priest named Damien, volunteered to move to this place and serve the people who are afflicted by this dreaded disease.
Fr Damien was greeted with devastation.
>> He walked among the living dead.
Everywhere he looked…
… there was only bleeding and oozing sores
… rampant diseases of various kinds
… and perhaps worst of all, hopelessness and endless misery
Choosing to make this place as his home for life, Fr Damien began his first sermon, addressing the people in the leper colony: “We lepers….”
Fr Damien did not yet have a sign of the leprous infection, but he already identified himself with the afflicted ones, by including himself as “We lepers…”
>> But within fifteen years, he too would be afflicted with the same disease and die!
Ø When one is committed to a cause, one identifies totally with the cause, even to the point of death!
Ø When one is faithful to a mission, one equates with its demands, even to the point of being afflicted!
This is what St Damien would teach from his life…
And this is what we learn, as St Damien did, from the life of Jesus: a total identification with the afflicted ones, in order to redeem and save them!
The Gospel of the Day presents Jesus who effects a healing for a leper…
… but in the process, undergoes the isolation and separation that was the lot of the lepers.
Jesus is in the land of Galilee.
>> A leper comes to Him seeking for a cleansing: “If you wish, you can make me clean” (Mk 1: 40)
Looking at the leper, Jesus knew and understood the immense agony and dread that the man had undergone…
The ancient times had leprosy as one of the most feared diseases.
The book of Leviticus required that all those found unclean with leprosy “shall dwell apart, making his abode outside the camp” (Lev 13:46)
Jesus knew that to come into contact with a leper was to make oneself unclean.
>> Jesus knew that to touch a leper was to also share in the affliction and misery.
Yet, the Lord, who is the One who cleanses (Eze 36:25) and the One who refines (Is 48:10) decides to touch the leper…and bring about a healing!
>> “Jesus stretched out His hand, touched him and said to him, ‘ I do will it. Be made clean'” (Mk 1:41)
The leper was immediately made clean.
>> The leper had to also get it confirmed from the priest.
But Jesus, who cleansed and freed the leper, now Himself, undergoes the pain as that of a leper…
The Gospel says that, “…it was impossible for Jesus to enter a town openly. He remained outside in deserted places…” (Mk 1:45)
Jesus now identifies Himself with the isolation that the leper himself had undergone
>> Jesus now undergoes Himself the staying away from society, that the leper had undergone.
Yes, when one is faithful to a mission, one equates with its demands, even to the point of being afflicted!
>> When one is committed to a cause, one identifies totally with the cause, even to the point of death!
Each of us is called with a specific mission and purpose in life…
>> It requires a deep commitment.
>> It requires an identification with the people and situation.
>> It requires a complete giving of oneself to the cause and mission.
Am I ready to embrace such a dedication?
St Paul invites us to be “… imitators of Christ” just as he imitated Christ (1 Cor 11:1)
Let us seek to imitate Christ in His deep commitment and dedication.
>> Let us seek to imitate Christ who came to bring healing to all in this world.
>> Let us seek to imitate Christ who shared in sufferings to bring redemption and joy.
God bless! Live Jesus!