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June 25, 2021

Gn 17:1, 9-10,

15-22, Ps 128:1-5,

Mt 8:1-4


Gas stations offer different octanes in their gas. We can get regular, premium, or super-premium. This is also true in our life with the Lord. Abraham was blessed with a son, Ishmael. Abraham was willing to settle for this regular blessing, but the Lord wanted to give him the premium of the miraculous birth of Isaac from the ninety-year-old Sarah.

The leper in today’s Gospel reading asked the Lord for premium, that is, miraculous healing. However, the Lord told another healed leper that He wanted to give him more than a premium healing. He wanted to give Him the super-premium of salvation (Lk 17:19).

To do homage to another is to publicly express reverence and respect. This is what this leper did to Jesus. He “did him homage.” But the leper went even further. He also expressed his certain faith that Jesus could cure him if He wished to do so. And Jesus did desire this. Jesus stretched out His hand to touch the leper and pronounced the words, “I will do it. Be made clean.” And with that, the leper was cleansed.

The first thing to note in this passage is that Jesus “touched” the leper. This was a forbidden practice since lepers were unclean and touching them could spread their disease. But Jesus broke the norm and touched the man, revealing to him his innate dignity.

It’s interesting to consider the question: Who paid whom a greater act of homage? Was the act of homage shown by the leper greater? Or the act of touching and cleansing the leper greater? Though we need not compare these two acts, it is helpful to reflect upon the profound fact that Jesus did show a form of homage to this unclean leper.

Of course, the homage we owe to God is unique. It is the homage of worship. We must bow down before Him, surrendering our lives in total abandonment and trust. We must honor Him as God and express our love accordingly. But in addition to Jesus showing His almighty power by this miracle, He also sets for us an example of how we must treat others. Every person, because they are made in the image and likeness of God, deserves our utmost respect, and they deserve to receive that respect in a public way.

We must continually seek to honor and respect others and express that honour and respect for others to see. This is especially difficult when the person we are called to show respect for is considered by others as “unclean.” The leper is only a symbol of the many types of people whom the world considers unclean and unworthy. Criminals, the poor, the confused, the sinner, the homeless, the political opponent, and every other person in our world deserves our utmost respect and reverence. Doing so does not justify their sin; rather, it cuts through the surface and looks at their innate dignity.

Today let us reflect upon the act of homage done by this leper to Jesus, and then reflect upon the act of homage Jesus offers this leper by publicly confirming his innate dignity. Who in our life is represented by this leper? Who is “unclean” because of the condition of their life, the sin they commit, or the public stigma they have? Whom is God calling us to reach out today and touch with love and respect, for others to see? Seek out the leper in your life and do not be afraid to imitate this holy act of homage exemplified by our Lord.

May God give us the spirit to treat other people with dignity and respect.


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