Michael Kirwan, a long-time member of the Catholic Community Worker Movement in Washington, DC, who was highly respected for his work of feeding and caring for the homeless in that city, once told the story of how he began his work.

“One night I brought down a large gallon plastic jug of split pea soup and set it down on the cement block near the heating vent where the poor and the homeless people gathered.

A rather rough looking fellow picked up the jar of soup by surprise and, in one motion, broke the jar over my head.” Instead of running away, I asked the man why he had done that. These were probably the first words I had ever spoken to any of them.

He told me that I was doing nothing more than bringing food to the dogs. I was bringing food, setting it down like I was feeding them out of a pet dish and then just walking away. He said, “Talk to us. Visit us. We don’t bite.”

“From what happened that night,” Michael said, “I realized that these men and women on the street only wanted to be loved and respected and listened to. They cared that someone cared about them, but just giving food and a blanket was not enough.”

In today’s Gospel, by healing a leper, Jesus gives the same message of reaction against the unjust and inhuman religious and social isolation of lepers in his society.

Submitted by Fr. Joseph Dovari