Dear brothers and sisters, buongiorno!

Today’s Gospel presents us with the healing of a leper (cf. Mk 1:40-45). To the sick man, who implores Him, Jesus answers: “I will; be clean!” (v. 41). He utters a very simple phrase, which He immediately puts into practice. Indeed, “immediately the leprosy left him, and he was made clean” (v. 42). This is Jesus’ style with those who suffer: few words, and concrete deeds.

Many times, in the Gospel, we see Him behave in this way towards those who suffer: deaf mutes (cf. Mk 7:31-37), paralytics (cf. Mk 2:1-12), and many others in need (cf. Mk 5). He always does this: He speaks little and His words are followed promptly by actions: He bows, takes by the hand, and heals. He does not waste time with discourses or interrogations, much less in pietism or sentimentalism. Rather, He shows the delicate modesty of one who listens attentively and acts with solicitude, preferably without being conspicuous.

It is a wonderful way to love, and how it would do us good to imagine it and assimilate it! Let us also think of when it we happen to encounter people who act like this: sober in words, but generous in action; reluctant to show off but ready to make themselves useful; effective in helping because they are willing to listen. Friends to whom one can say: “Do you want to listen to me? Do you want to help me?”, with the confidence of hearing them answer, almost with Jesus’ words: “Yes, I will, I am here for you, to help you!”. This concreteness is so much more important in a world such as our own, in which an evanescent virtuality of relationships seems to be gaining ground.

Let us listen instead to how the Word of God provokes us: “If a brother or sister is ill-clad and in lack of daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, be warmed and filled’, without giving them the things needed for the body, what does it profit?” (James 2:15-16). The Apostle James says this. Love needs tangibility, love needs presence, encounter, it needs to be given time and space: it cannot be reduced to beautiful words, to images on a screen, momentary selfies and hasty messages. They are useful tools that can help, but they are not enough for love; they cannot substitute real presence.

Let us ask ourselves today: do I know how to listen to people, am I ready to meet their requests? Or do I make excuses, procrastinate, hide behind abstract or useless words? In real terms, when was the last time I went to visit someone who was alone or sick – everyone can answer in their heart – or when was the last time I changed my plans to meet the needs of someone who asked me for help?

May Mary, solicitous in care, help us to be ready and tangible in love.