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Mar 09, 2021 128 Shalom Tidings
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How Was Saint Francis Cured of His Fear by a Leper?

Saint Francis of Assisi once had a great fear and abhorrence of lepers. He confessed that the sight of a leper was so repugnant to him that he refused to even approach their dwellings. If he chanced to glimpse one in his travels or pass by the leprosarium, he turned his head away and blocked his nose.

As he became more serious about his faith and took on Christ’s admonition to love others as you love yourself, he became ashamed of this attitude. So one day when a man afflicted with leprosy crossed his path, he overcame his feelings of horror and disgust and, instead of turning away, leaped off his horse, kissed the leper and pressed money into his hand.

But when Francis remounted and looked back, he could not find the leper anywhere. With dawning excitement, he realized that it was Jesus whom he had kissed. After gathering some funds, he went to the leper hospital and gave alms to each one, kissing their hands with reverence as he did so. What had formerly seemed distasteful to him—the sight or touch of a leper—was transformed into sweetness. Later Francis wrote, “When I was in sin, the sight of lepers nauseated me beyond measure; but then God Himself led me into their company, and I had pity on them. When I became acquainted with them, what had previously nauseated me became the source of spiritual and physical consolation for me.”

Today, we often see people around us who are stricken with spiritual leprosy. Mostly we try to keep away from them, but we fail to realize that it has crept into our own hearts as well. So instead of judging and pointing fingers at others, let’s cleanse ourselves off the crippling mind and hardness of heart. In the first place, God bestowed His grace and mercy upon us though we are broken and wounded. Let’s reach out to others with this mercy and compassion which we received unconditionally.

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