FEB. 14. ORDINARY TIME. (B) WK. 6. SUN. MK. 1. 40-50
A leper came to Jesus and pleaded on his knees: ‘If you want to’ he said ‘you can cure me.’ Feeling sorry for him, Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him. ‘Of course I want to!’ he said. ‘Be cured!’ And the leprosy left him at once and he was cured. Jesus immediately sent him away and sternly ordered him, ‘Mind you say nothing to anyone, but go and show yourself to the priest, and make the offering for your healing prescribed by Moses as evidence of your recovery.’ The man went away, but then started talking about it freely and telling the story everywhere, so that Jesus could no longer go openly into any town, but had to stay outside in places where nobody lived. Even so, people from all around would come to him.
The first reading accompanying this Gospel today (Leviticus 13:1-2,44-46) informs us of how, in the time of Christ, lepers were cast out of society, treated as outcasts, and nobody was permitted to touch them, and they had to call out “unclean, unclean” when near others.
One of the core teachings of Christ, and Christianity however is, under no circumstances is anybody to be treated as an outcast, and he bears witness to this truth in today’s Gospel where we are specifically told Christ “touched” the leper, and healed him.
Leprosy, at the time of Christ, was certainly viewed as a dangerous and serious condition due to it being so contagious. In Christ’s eyes however there was (and is today) a condition much more serious than leprosy, and that is sin.
And while leprosy has been largely cured, the same thing cannot be said of sin which, in our modern world, appears extremely contagious.
Fortunately for us today the teaching of Christ, that nobody is to be treated as an outcast, also applies to sinners, a message constantly being proclaimed today by his Church! This means all we have to do, when we find our lives have been impacted by sin, is to imitate the Leper in today’s reading where: “A leper came to Jesus and pleaded on his knees: ‘If you want to’ he said ‘you can cure me’.”
I think, in reading the Gospels today, we are perfectly correct in applying the lessons of today’s reading to the evil of sin as Christ’s approach to this “condition” is exactly the same; - “Of course I want to!’ he said. ‘Be cured!’ And the leprosy left him at once and he was cured.”
One of the truths of the Christian Faith that is often overlooked is that Christ Loves sinners!
This is a message that needs to be clearly understood, and proclaimed, as Christ wants sinners to come to him; - with the exact same sentiments as the leper; - “on his knees” and with Faith his condition will be cured; - as it was in today’s reading; - and as it is on leaving confession!
The “cure” that took place for the leper, and the “cure” that takes place in a confessional are exactly the same, and it is interesting Christ asked the cure be kept private. This is because any Divine cure is meant to result in a more intimate and loving relationship with God, and it is not an event to be discussed or revealed to others. Rather, it is meant to result in a deeper Faith; - and an amended way of life that is sustained by that Faith!