Fr Thomas’ Reflection for the 5th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Have you been Jesus to someone?

Thirty years ago, at a shack of a building in Kerala India, a young man and his wife came to see me.  I was just about to light a fire in the cooking place in the smaller of the two rooms which was the designated kitchen in the shed.  The bigger room which had a table and a couple of benches was the parish centre and my dining room. There I was about to establish a parish.  I got degrees in theology and philosophy, not in other disciplines.  Everyone including that young man was new to me.  Lack of familiarity did not stop him from making an unusual request.  He said, “Father, l am suffering from alcohol addiction which is ruining my family. Please free me from my alcoholism!”   I never considered myself competent enough to treat alcoholism.  I made that clear to him, “I am only a priest”,  I said.  My declaration of incompetence did not deter him from his plea for help.  He told me something totally unexpected, “Father, I am confident that you can cure me.  Will you please do it for me?” Those words reminded me of what the leper told Jesus, ‘If you want to’ he said ‘you can cure me.’ (Mark 1:40).  I thought to myself, ‘I am here to do Jesus’ job.’  I took the challenge.  As a result, not just that young man, but seventeen others also were able to wiggle out of the bond of alcoholism, and make a new start in their lives.

According to the Gospel (Mark 1:40-45), the man, who was outcast because of his skin disease, had faith in Jesus. ‘If you want to’ he said ‘you can cure me’.  When this was matched with the willingness of Jesus to minister to him, his life was made whole.  This new found dignity of life became good news to many others thereafter.  In effect the touch of Jesus that cured the leper, transformed the world around him.

You may recollect events where someone in their distress came to you for help.  Though you do not consider yourself as a miracle worker, because of their trust in you, you could help them in their misery.   It could have been a case of depression or unhappy marriage, or mental illness, or loneliness or a case of someone let down by a close friend.  In any case your ‘one on one’ approach and willingness to help brought joy to that person.  Since then you may have noticed that even the world around that person is also transformed.  In that case you have been Jesus to a seeker.  When is the last time you have been Jesus to someone?