On the Gospel of Mark 1:40-45
6th Sunday of the Year
A leper approaches Jesus. He has a very strong faith and knows that Jesus can heal him with just a touch. Jesus is moved by the man’s faith and the circumstances of his disease. Jesus touches him and heals him. Jesus is also concerned that the law be fulfilled and tells the man to see a priest and cleanse himself. He asks the man not to tell anyone how he has been cured, but the man is too full of joy to keep the news to himself. He tells many people of the miracle Jesus has performed in his life.
Not many things will break our hearts so quickly as being rejected by another person. Sometimes we are cruel or shun others or exclude them. Even more difficult are circumstances where someone once trusted turns away from us. We get a small glimpse of what it might have been like for the leper in today’s Gospel passage who was not even allowed to live with healthy people. We also understand better the courage and compassion of Jesus who touched the man and accepted him. Jesus deliberately stretched out his hand and touched the leper, a very daring action, for ordinarily contact with a leper was thought to transfer uncleanness and was forbidden. Jesus said to him “I do choose. Be made clean!”
Are there times when God provides us with the opportunity to reach out to someone and we choose to ignore them? Refuse to be Christ to them? We all perhaps know modern-day lepers, people who maybe feel isolated, unclean, with no sense of self-worth, those we don’t want to mix with. But wouldn’t it be great if they felt able to come to someone who they felt could bring them healing? Maybe we have found ourselves in the situation of needing someone to reach out to us. We remember how we felt at that moment, pleading on our knees, not literally perhaps, yet nervous and insecure – like the leper – hopeful and yet so unsure of ourselves that even though we trusted the person something within us still whispered ‘if you want to…’ We give thanks to God for the compassion of that Jesus person.
A man with leprosy came to him and begged him on his knees, “If you are willing, you can make me clean.” Jesus was indignant.He reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cleansed. Jesus sent him away at once with a strong warning: “See that you don’t tell this to anyone. But go, show yourself to the priest and offer the sacrifices that Moses commanded for your cleansing, as a testimony to them.” Instead he went out and began to talk freely, spreading the news. As a result, Jesus could no longer enter a town openly but stayed outside in lonely places. Yet the people still came to him from everywhere.
– Mark 1:40-45