As we reflected on the scripture readings of today (Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time - Year B) - for me the theme that kept leaping out of the readings was "UNTOUCHABILITY". We in India have wide experience on what this means. We had a whole section of society considered "not touchable" for they had the power to contaminate and corrupt all that they touched. In the gospel of today - Jesus breaks the barriers that separate the touchable from the untouchable.
I remember this story narrated to us by the retired Archbishop of Bangalore - Alphonse Mathias - many years ago. While a student in Rome he was travelling with one of his priest companions (an African) by the local transport. Shockingly a lady on the bus (she was white) kept looking pointedly at the African priest - staring actually. This was rather disconcerting. The last straw was reached when she reached out and rubbed the skin of his hand, checking to see if the black colour rubbed off or was real. The priest had a good sense of humour and a good dose of self-esteem. As if by reflex, he reached out similarly and rubbed the face of the lady's baby checking if the white colour was real...or if it was just make-up.
How often our touch kills and destroys people - and by touch I mean not only the physical touch but all the ways in which we interact with others. If only each of us could use our 'touch' to build up and heal rather than to 'divide and kill'. Ample opportunities to break down the barriers of untouchability present themselves to us daily...if only we use them to break walls - then the healing of the leper by Jesus can become a paradigm for a world of love, of the healing touch, and joyful interaction.
(Image taken from The Change Blog)