EVERYTHING FOR THE GLORY OF GOD – 11 February 2018 – 6th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Leviticus 13:1-2, 45-46; Ps. 32:7, 1-2, 5, 11; 1 Cor 10:31-11.1; Mk 1:40-45
Shiu Lan

Leprosy carried with it a social stigma in Old Testament times. Because of the infectious nature of the disease, the laws of Moses stipulated that the inflicted person “shall wear torn clothes and let the hair of their head be disheveled” and cry out “Unclean, unclean” so that people could keep a safe distance so as not to catch the disease from them (Lv 13:1-2).

 These people should also be isolated from their community and “live alone with their dwelling outside the camp” (Lv 13: 45-46). What the lepers suffered was devastating. They suffered not only a physical isolation from family and community but emotional isolation as well.

In this Sunday’s Gospel Reading, Jesus healed a man of his leprosy out of compassion for him. When the leprosy left the person, Jesus instructed him to go at once to show himself to the priest and offer for his cleansing what Moses commanded so that he could return to his family and his community. By directing the person to the priest, Jesus, the Son of God attributed the healing to the glory of God; He came not to abolish the law but to fulfill (cf Mt 5:17).

Saint Paul in the Second Reading teaches us to imitate him as he himself imitated Christ (1 Cor 11:1) and Paul himself did everything for the glory of God. (1 Cor 10:31) Let us strive to live this out in our own lives when we encounter a neighbor in need, the sick, the elderly, those abandoned by society, and do things for them. We must remind ourselves that we are doing these things not to seek attention, not for personal glory or fame, but for the glory of God. Even obnoxious work for undeserving or ungrateful people in the eyes of the world becomes meaningful and even appealing to us if we do it for the glory of God. As we do things for the glory of God, as we raise our hearts and minds to God, we will find peace, serenity, fulfilment and enrichment in our own lives.

The liberation has begun!

Fernando Armellini
Claretian Publications, Macau

In Jesus’ time curing a leper was equivalent to raising the dead. The priests could only “declare pure” a leper, not “make him pure.” They are not able to cure him because the healing of leprosy was reserved to God (2 Kgs 5:7). The healing of a leper was therefore, the proof that the Messiah has arrived in the world.

The leper, approaches Jesus and begs him on his knees to be “purified.” More than the disease itself, what troubled him was the fact of being excluded from civil and religious society. 

The leper was considered a dead man. Leprosy was “the eldest daughter of the dead” (Job 18:13). In the Old Testament, only two great prophets had managed to cure it: Moses had cured his sister Miriam (Num 12) and Elisha cured the General of Syria, Naaman (2 Kgs 5). To avoid misunderstandings, Jesus does not want the news from spreading among the people; the religious leaders instead, priests must know that a great prophet has arisen in Israel, that God has visited his people and that the kingdom of God has begun. The healed leper must testify to them that the liberation has begun. 

Also the fact that the leper runs to disclose, in spite of Jesus’ prohibition to speak about, what Jesus has done for him has a meaning. Mark writes this story after the death and resurrection of Jesus and the veil on the identity of the “Messiah of God” has already fallen. Now it is time to proclaim to everyone that Jesus is the Messiah. Who is entrusted with this task? Those who have experienced the encounter with Jesus. In Mark’s Gospel, only two people undertake this mission: the leper we are talking about and the man possessed by demons (Mk 5:19-20).

The message is now clear: only those who have tasted the joy of a new life, only those who were marginalized and made the experience of liberation are able to explain to others the wonders that the word of Christ can work.

Jesus could no longer openly enter any town, but stayed in the rural areas, in desert places, and people came to him from everywhere.  The evangelist highlights an exchange of residence: first, it was the leper who lived far away and could not enter the villages, now it is Jesus who has chosen to live in the condition of the lepers. He has thus shown his desire to share the fate of all those people considered “lepers.”

The passage concludes with the observation: all drew near to him with confidence, because he had chosen the lepers, the last, those who were rejected. These are the people who, even today, instinctively should approach the Christian community, sure to be welcomed with gentleness and love.

Translated by Fr John Ladesma SDB
Abridged by Fr Jijo Kandamkulathy CMF

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