From Tom Woodman,
The healing of lepers in the Bible, as in this Sunday’s gospel (Mark 1:40-45), always has a special resonance. Leprosy, in corrupting the body, seemed to harm the essential identity of the person, and it also excluded them from the holy community (Leviticus 13:1-2 & 44-46), the only place where they could find fulfillment. For the Israelites it was not only a literal but a symbolic illness, a stigma in the deepest sense of the word. This reminds me of a point made by one of my favourite spiritual writers, Sebastian Moore, monk of Downside, now 94 years old but still writing letters to the papers about how the Church could do things better.
He believes that many of us have our own sense of stigma or shame or perhaps a feeling, as he puts it in his very English way, of ‘wonkiness’ or awkwardness that keeps us from others. Sometimes this sense is a pure delusion; in other cases we simply exaggerate its effects. Instead of trying to deny it we should bring it to God, for it is at the very heart of the place where He wants to touch us and heal us. Presumably this is how group therapy works, for it is in sharing this sense of isolation or strangeness that we find growth in recognizing that others have it too. What is most reassuring about this Sunday’s reading is that the Lord says to the leper, “Of course, I want to heal you”.