“Jesus as a true doctor of bodies and souls, whom God the Father sent into the world to heal humanity, marked by sin and its consequences,” said Pope Francis on February 11, 2018, in his address before praying the Angelus with the crowds in St. Peter’s Square.
The Holy Father noted that February 11 is World Day of the Sick, which he called “well placed” in light of it being the Memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Lourdes. And the day’s gospel (Cf. Mark 1:40-45) is the story of Jesus healing a leper who asked him for help.
Leprosy was a terrible disease that forced the separation of the sufferer from the community, the Pope explained. But when the victim Jesus encountered asked for help, the Lord felt compassion and chose to heal him.
“It’s very important to fix the attention on this interior resonance of Jesus, as we did for a long time during the Jubilee of Mercy,” the Holy Father continued. “Christ’s work isn’t understood, Christ himself isn’t understood, if one doesn’t enter His heart full of compassion. This is what pushes Him to stretch out His hand to the man sick with leprosy, to touch him and to say to him: ‘I will; be clean!’”
It was against Mosaic law to touch a leper for fear of contracting the disease. But Francis explained that in this case, the disease wasn’t transmitted to Jesus – the healing influence went from him to the sufferer.
“Brothers and sisters, no illness is the cause of impurity: sickness certainly involves the whole person, but in no way affects or impedes his relationship with God,” the Pope proclaimed. “Rather, a sick person can even be more united to God. Instead, it’s sin that renders us impure! Egoism, pride, to enter the world of corruption, these are sicknesses of the heart from which there is need to be purified…”
“And every time we approach the Sacrament of Reconciliation with a repentant heart, the Lord repeats also to us: ‘I will; be clean!’ How much joy there is in this! So the leprosy of sin disappears, we return to live joyfully our filial relationship with God and we are fully readmitted in the community.”