Matthew’s Gospel is thoroughly grounded in the Jewish tradition of Jesus. In it we hear protestations by Jesus himself that everything He does and says is in continuity with the religion of His family. Jesus Himself and Matthew’s Gospel are good examples of being rooted in a specific religious tradition. That could, of course, result in a very narrow perspective. We’ve all run into people whose religion seems to have narrowed their view of life, their sympathies. As a result, some of our contemporaries like to practice an open attitude, which means they accept everything around them with no discrimination and feel that to do so would be “judgmental.” Yet there is a way – we see it in great saints and generous souls – of prizing one’s own tradition and being appreciative of others.
Above all, mercy and love should know no boundaries; human misery should call all of us to help. The ending of the Sermon on the Mount (yesterday’s Gospel) may be meant as modeling the genuinely good human being, not simply the Christian. In today’s Gospel Jesus performs the first of several signs that show that His sympathies and mission go beyond His fellow Jews and those considered full members of the synagogue. Today Jesus cures, even touches a leper. Following this He cures a Gentile and a woman. All three represent people whom we would call marginalized. If our religious tradition is, like the Christian, broadly based in sympathies of loving compassion, our devotion to it should not prevent us from helping the marginalized in our world: the poor, the homeless, the immigrant, and those of another race or ethnicity.