Christ as Saviour, El Greco [Web Gallery of Art]
Readings (New American Bible: Philippines, USA)
Readings (Jerusalem Bible: Australia, England & Wales, India [optional], Ireland, New Zealand, Pakistan, Scotland, South Africa)
Gospel Mark 1:40-45 (New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised Catholic Edition)
A leper came to Jesus begging him, and kneeling he said to him, ‘If you choose, you can make me clean.’ Moved with pity, Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, and said to him, ‘I do choose. Be made clean!’ Immediately the leprosy left him, and he was made clean. After sternly warning him he sent him away at once, saying to him, ‘See that you say nothing to anyone; but go, show yourself to the priest, and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.’ But he went out and began to proclaim it freely, and to spread the word, so that Jesus could no longer go into a town openly, but stayed out in the country; and people came to him from every quarter.
(1956 – 2004) [Wikipedia]
Towards the end of February 2003 Dr Carlo Urbani, an Italian, went to Vietnam, representing the World Health Organisation, to investigate an American businessman who was showing unusual symptoms. It turned out to be severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), a highly contagious virus. The man who discovered this new disease died from it himself about a month later on 29 March. In a conscious moment, while in the ICU in a hospital in Bangkok, he asked for a priest to give him the Last Rites.
Vladimir Redzioch of Inside the Vatican interviewed Giuliana Chiorrini, the widow of Dr Urbani. MISYON, the Columban magazine in the Philippines, published the interview, with permission, in its March-April 2004 issue. Here are extracts from the interview.
ITV: Your husband chose to work with the sick and poor around the world. Why?
Giuliana Chiorrini: Carlo was always involved in volunteer work and since his youth was attracted by the poor. He cultivated the desire to discover new horizons. To do this he left for Africa with the missionaries. Since his days as a young student with a backpack full of medicines, he had traveled in Africa (Mali, Niger, and Benin). Afterwards he work in solidarity camps run by the Xaverian Fathers, Catholic Action and Open Hands. He was always in contact with missionaries. As a doctor he wrote for the missionary magazine Missioni Consolata. Carlo also fulfilled his desire to help he poor during his 10 years working at the hospital in Macerata. This confirmed him in his work with Médecins Sans Frontières, of which he was the president, and in this capacity he received the Nobel Peace Prize when it was conferred on the organization in 1999.
ITV: What role did his faith play in his choice of life?
Chiorrini: Faith had an extremely important role in my husband’s life. Everything he did enriched the spiritual lives of the people who were in contact with him. He was also very sensitive to the beauty of creation – he even used to go hang-gliding to admire nature.
Dr Carlo Urbani with his wife, Giuliana, and their children, Maddalena, Luca and Tommaso [Source]
Giuliana Chiorrini, Dr Urbani’s widow, carries the cross during the Via Crucis at the Colosseum, Good Friday 2003
If you choose, you can make me clean. Like Jesus, Dr Carlo Urbani chose and made many clean, sacrificing his own life in doing so.
Manducaverunt, et saturati sunt nimis,
They ate and had their fill,
et desiderium eorum attulit eis Dominus;
and what they craved the Lord gave them;
non sunt fraudati a desiderio suo.
they were not disappointed in what they craved.
In the Ordinary Form of the Mass this is the first of two options for the Communion Antiphon. In the Extraordinary Form of the Mass it is the Communion Antiphon for Quinquagesima Sunday, the Sunday before Ash Wednesday.