Today’s first reading from Leviticus is another of those downers when not read in context with the second reading and the gospel. Here’s a poor soul with leprosy who’s told to warn people that he’s unclean.

The point of all three readings is we’re ALL unclean–and dependent on God’s word to heal ourselves. The irony of these readings is that while the poor soul in Leviticus is supposed to isolate himself to save others, Jesus had to expose himself to all who were unclean to save them. Yet even Jesus had to find isolation every once in a while to save his human side from the demands of “the great unwashed.”

In today’s second reading, Paul uses himself as an example of how we all play a role in multiplying Jesus’ healing power, so instead of being one of “the great unwashed,” we can wash each other’s souls clean using the words of Jesus. That’s the true miracle of His healing power: that His words continue to be potent medicine with no expiration date.