Homily of the 6th Sunday in Ordinary Time
This Sunday’s gospel tells us of Jesus’ cure of a man afflicted with leprosy (a term referring to any repulsive skin disease). A leper comes to Jesus and begs to be cured. Moved with compassion, Jesus touches the “untouchable” and cures him. He then sends him to a priest so that he can be reinstated into the community.
Leprosy, a contagious skin disease suspected by the contemporaries of Jesus had very little toleration in Israel. In Mark, we have the manifestation of the formidable freedom and the force of Jesus with respect to this disease. The patient advances towards Jesus and expresses his faith to him in a remarkable and simple manner: “if you want, you can purify me” Jesus is moved by the distress of man. Jesus touches the leprous one and says to him: “I want it, be purified.” Jesus is the one who seizes our infirmities, cures them and reintroduces us within our social framework. Jesus does not shout to heal as our televangelists do on TV today. His Word is once, effective and final. After curing the leper, Jesus had admonished him not to publicize what had happened. All Glory was given to God as the Second reading admonishes us to do everything for the GLORY OF GOD.
Since the Church is the means by which Christ extends his mission for the sake of God’s kingdom through history, healing will be an essential characteristic of its service. Christians, through the urging of Christ’s compassion, must bring healing to the world’s sickness, making possible medical care even for the “untouchables” of our own society. In the Catholic tradition, Christ’s compassionate hand touches the sick in a special way through the sacrament of anointing. This is done through the prayer, laying of hands and anointing of the Priest. By sending the leper to the priest for confirmation of healing, this shows the place of the priest as healer. But to be effective in this ministry of healing, the priest is advised like Jesus to withdraw to a “lonely place” like Jesus to pray. We are told that Jesus was concerned about the mistaken notion people had of his mission: “Since Jesus knew that they were going to come and carry him off to make him king, he withdrew again to the mountain alone…you are looking for me not because you saw signs but because you ate the loaves and were filled” (6:15-26).
Dear Christians, Christ is always ready to deliver us from our sickness and pains. Jesus prayed to be delivered from suffering and death; nevertheless, as things worked out, he trusted in God’s love through the experience of his suffering, abandonment, and dying. In our time of trial, as the Letter to the Hebrews tells, we must keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, the leader and perfecter of faith. “For the sake of the joy that lay before him he endured the cross, despising its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God” (Heb 12-2)
Fr. Jude Thaddeus Langeh, cmf
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