Modern-day lepers

Published February 14, 2021, 12:41 AM

by Fr. Bel R. San Luis, SVD



Once a jeepney was passing in front of a leprosarium. Two patients, though cured already but still bore physical deformities, boarded. There was an uneasy silence as they moved to the front seat right beside the driver.

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A few minutes later, the two asked to stop in order to alight. The lady beside the driver reached out her hand to pay the fare. Afraid to touch the deformed hand and coins, the driver said: “Hindi na bale. Libre na po ang pamasahe” (Never mind. Your fare is free).”

The patient was so grateful that she held his hand and kissed it! Muntik ng himatayin ang driver! (The driver almost fainted).

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That amusing story shows how people sick of leprosy are very much dreaded. During the time of Christ, lepers were not only segregated as social outcasts but their sickness was considered a punishment from God.

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Thanks to the advances of medical science, leprosy is now curable. Nowadays we seldom meet lepers but we do have modern-day lepers.

Close to home today and shunned by people are coronavirus patients because the sickness is highly contagious and fatal.

It’s not only the patients who are avoided but also the medical frontliners. For instance, at the outset of the total lockdown when  nurses and caregivers would hail taxis and jeepneys, the drivers would immediately turn them down for fear of being contaminated. Thank God, some benevolent bus operators volunteered their transport means. Others offered their vacant apartments and lots to the frontliners so they could pass the nights and days for lack of transportation. The group called themselves “Bayanihan” through hospitality.

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Other modern-day lepers shunned by people in society are those stricken with AIDS (Acquired Immuno Deficiency Syndrome), prisoners, those living in depressed areas, tribal people.

What is our attitude as Christians towards them? Clearly, the Lord teaches us by words and deeds to express love and compassion.

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There’s another important insight in this Sunday gospel. The leper comes to Jesus and asks to be cured. Jesus stretches out his hand to the leper and cures him. We go to doctors and faith healers, but do we ever go to Jesus and avail of his healing sacraments like confession and receiving Holy Communion? One time I asked a doctor, “Do you believe in the saying,‘God heals, the doctor collects the fee?’” He laughed and said: “Father, there’s some truth to that because if God does not will the cure, we doctors cannot do anything.”

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While we’re still in this world, may the following words of the writer John Donne inspire us to do more good works, thus: “I shall pass this way but once. Any good,  therefore, that I can do or any kindness that I can show, let me do it now. Let me not neglect nor defer it for I shall not pass this way again.”

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VALENTINE’S DAY. Let me quote the words of the late Anita S. Meily about true love.

“LOVE is caring – caring deeply about the loved one’s security, growth, and happiness. A prerequisite to loving and caring is knowledge of the loved one, to really know the other person – his/her needs, wants, desires, and values. Without this knowledge, one cannot supply what the loved person needs and wants from the other.

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 “I like the story of a husband who always bought bottles of ketchup whenever he did the groceries, whether they needed it or not. ‘Dad,’ asked the daughter, ‘Why do you always buy ketchup? We still have 10 bottles on the shelf. Besides, you don’t even like ketchup.’

“ ‘Your mother does,’ he replied. ‘I told your mother the day I married her that I’d always try to supply what she needed and wanted. The day I don’t worry about ketchup will mean our marriage is over.’ ”

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THE LIGHTER SIDE. HUSBAND: “My first years of marriage were beautiful. When I came home from work, my wife greeted me with a smile and brought me my slippers. Our dog barked and barked, wagging his tail.

But after that, things changed. I come home dead tired from work. Now my dog brings my slippers and my wife barks and barks!”

Wives, take note.

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FAMILY TV MASS – is aired on TV5 One Sport Channel 59,  Free TV Ch. 41 at 6-7 a.m. every Sunday and anytime at “MCFI SVD Media” Account on YouTube and Facebook Page. Priest presider: FR. BEL SAN LUIS,  SVD.

The FAMILY that prays together stays together.