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Fr. Francis Martin

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Sunday Introduction

6B Ordinary Time

SUNDAY PLANNING RESOURCES

You can make me clean

by Sr. Mary M. McGlone — 2018

Did you ever notice how time seems to slow down during the most meaningful moments of life? We may drive home without remembering a single portion of a 30-minute trek through traffic; someone accustomed to the kitchen may fix dinner hardly noticing the particulars she tends to in pre-heating, seasoning, chopping and putting a casserole in the oven. Yet, when we are standing at the bedside of a dying parent, attending the birth of a child or asking the question that will lead to a life-long decision, each second seems to have its own import as our feelings blend with sensual perceptions and create enduring memories. It is as if time’s duration comes with variable thickness or weight.

Mark tells the story of Jesus and the man with leprosy with moment-enhancing emotion. Perhaps it is because Jesus had just told his disciples that going out among the people was the very reason for which he had come. Perhaps Mark knew the man in question and had reminisced about the story with him. Maybe it was just that Mark had discovered that the time of Jesus’ life overflowed with moments of profound meaning and Mark dedicated himself to communicating them. For whatever motive, Mark tells this story in evocative detail.

When the leper came to Jesus, he was doing something forbidden. He must have been at least a little frightened. Instead of respecting the law that relegated him to the margins of society, he knelt down in front of Jesus as to one who not only had the power to help him, but who could also exercise the freedom to do what the law would not and could not do: to accept and heal rather than banish him.

Speaking with the audacity of someone who has no other options, the man summoned Jesus to reveal what he was all about: “If you wish, you can make me clean.” The man had no question about whether Jesus could accomplish the feat, only whether Jesus wanted to do so, whether he would choose it as part of the mission for which he had come.

According to Mark, the man’s request stirred Jesus to his depths. Even before he could speak, his hand was reaching out, touching the man’s spurned and suffering body, transforming it with tenderness. Then pronouncing the words that explained his gesture and made his will effective, Jesus said, “I do will it. Be made clean.”

With that, Jesus commissioned the healed man as the first apostle to the leaders of the Jews: “Go, show yourself to the priest … offer what Moses prescribed; that will be proof.” Whether the man got to the priests, we do not know, but he did not follow Jesus’ order to keep quiet with others. His story made Jesus the man of the moment and took away any hope of anonymity. If he did not go to the towns, they came to him.

What gave this story its “thickness” was the man’s vulnerable openness and honesty and Jesus’ spontaneous tenderness. The man knew his own need like no one else, and he was willing to expose it. While society refused to countenance him, he found in Jesus someone who had no fear of contamination or mortality. The afflicted man’s audacity met Jesus’ utter freedom to love and that combination proclaimed the Gospel in the sight of the people.

It is a beautiful story. But, what does it tell those who do not suffer from leprosy? First of all, the story calls us to a recognition of all that we share with the leper. Since his condition was obvious, society ordered him to hide away from sight. We, on the other hand, are quite adept at hiding our weakness and the unsightly, sinful aspects of our life. Perhaps the worst of it is that we can hide them from ourselves, believing in the image we project rather than the truth of who we are. Our friend the one-time leper would remind us that Christ can only touch and heal what we bring before him; if we don’t bring our genuine self, we will never truly encounter Christ. He might add that we never hear of Jesus reaching out and touching someone who was self-sufficient, but only those who knew they needed him.

Coming before God with a willingness to be nothing other than ourselves and to expose our need will take us into the realm of thick time. We may do that in private prayer, in sacrament or with a community. Mark told the story in a way that points out that the time and place do not matter. What is vital is the courage to place our truest self before God as well as the vulnerability to allow God to touch and transform us. Whether we ask for healing or forgiveness or inspiration, we can trust what Jesus said: “I do will it!”

May God’s will be done!

©2018 National Catholic Reporter. All Rights Reserved. Sr. Mary McGlone is a Sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet. Her 2020 Reflections and 2018 archive can be read at National Catholic Reporter website.

First Reading

6B Ordinary Time

Those who are sick shall live outside the camp

Leviticus 13:1-2, 44-46

  • The Book of Leviticus is a collection laws; many having to do with the proper worship of God.
  • In today’s reading we hear of illness and exclusion from communal life.
  • Because people did not know about the process of contagion at the time, the community banished persons with any skin disease as long as the disease lasted.
SOURCE: Our Sunday Visitor

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Proclamation Tips for Lectors

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Paul J. Schlachter

Points to consider

  • I hear a prescription of the Law dealing with those afflicted with leprosy.  I know that Jesus has changed all this.  So what is the point of repeating old ordinances that no longer hold?
  • I listen to the ritual words: He shall be brought to the priest, and the priest shall declare him unclean.  The people already shun the leper on the human plane.  Such hideous illness was considered a judgment of God visited upon that person.  But the reason that leprosy is mentioned in the Torah is the ritual implication: unclean.  It was in that context that the representative of the people before God, only after an exhaustive examination of the person’s skin condition, confirmed their fears and prejudices as well as God’s obvious judgment.  Even the afflicted one must accept the sentence: He shall declare himself unclean because he is in fact unclean.
  • As I rehearse these words, I begin to contrast the pronouncement of the Law with the pronouncement of Jesus in today’s Gospel, and also with the humane treatment of the afflicted person today, not to mention the medical remedies now available for those suffering leprosy in Jewish and Gentile hospitals.
  • One connection to our own day: my listeners and I have ways of marking people who are not like ourselves, telling them apart by their clothes and appearance.  We shun them and leave them to dwell apart, making their abode outside the camp.  And, by the way, why is Molokai still the least visited island in Hawaii?
  • Another connection: Disaster victims in our own country, or in far-off Africa and Asia, remain out of sight and out of mind when the media cameras turn away from them.  They do not have to exchange their clothing, for their desperate state itself is what makes their garments rent and their head bare.

Key elements

  • Climax: The second half of this short reading, where it says: The priest shall declare him unclean.
  • Message for our assembly: Compare this reading to the Gospel reading.  Our mission is not to ratify the apartheid already present in the world but to break down barriers among God’s children.
  • I will challenge myself: To make the congregation pay attention and call to mind the way they have divided the family of man in their hearts.

SOURCE: Paul J. Schlachter at LectorWorks.org

Greg Warnusz

Introducing the reading at Mass

Leviticus is a book primarily about the holiness of God, and the ritual holiness or cleanliness needed to serve God worthily. For Levitical priests, that included not being a leper and avoiding contact with lepers.

Oral interpretation

Our Liturgical Setting: In today’s gospel, from our year-long sequence of readings from Mark, Jesus cures a leper. The first reading gives us background about the place of lepers in that society.

The Literary Background: Relatively late translators titled this book “Leviticus” because almost all of it concerns the ritual duties of the many priests in the tribe of Levi. But ancient Hebrew writings took their titles from the first word of their text. In this book, the first word means “and he called,” that is, “and the Lord called Moses.” Called Moses (and the Israelites) to what? To holiness, as in the frequent refrain in the book, “Be you holy as I, the Lord, am holy.” Now there are many definitions of holiness, but I maintain that the original one, and the genius of Israelite religion, is the call to be “separated, distinct,” as in

    “Be you different from the crude, violent, rapacious, self-important, superstitious and unsanitary neighboring tribes, as I, the Lord your God, am quite different from their so-called gods.”

And how is the Lord unlike other gods? Precisely by overcoming the divine-human chasm that dominates pagan religion, and being God with the people: with them in their perilous journey, with them in the Law that can make their lives and their society excellent and humane. And the people are to be holy, that is unlike other peoples, by behaving as people who know their God chooses to be near them.(Ironically, a holiness that started as separateness becomes communion. The later Christian doctrine that the man Jesus is the incarnation of the Son of God, one person truly God and truly human, sharing the human condition even unto death, takes this meaning of holiness even further. The Spirit of Jesus at work in his church wasted no time in prompting the church to broaden the call to holiness to a universal one. In God’s long secret design now revealed, all people are called not to separateness but to union. That’s as far as the idea of holiness will get in our lifetimes. But we are ahead of ourselves.)

This is a subtle call, as evidenced by the number of times you had to read the preceding paragraphs. To make this commandment of holiness practical and concrete is difficult. It requires unusual wisdom, patience and courage. Sometimes the best that priests could do was to stress the need for ritual purity. That may seem like a pale substitute, but we shouldn’t judge the ancients too harshly. It was a long journey from magical, materialistic religion to a spiritual one. Our notions of individual responsibility and the importance of intention, not just action, hadn’t dawned on these folks yet. For now, as the introduction to Leviticus in the 1970 edition of the New American Bible says, “Generally speaking, the laws contained in the book serve to teach the Israelites that they should always keep themselves in a state of legal purity, or external sanctity, as a sign of their intimate union with the Lord.”

The Historical Background: And this is the trouble with lepers. If you are one or if you come in contact with one, you’re not “looking good” enough to do your ritual duties. The issue is not contagion as a threat to physical health. (The condition here called leprosy wasn’t contagious; leprosy as we know it didn’t enter the Middle East until later.) It’s that you have to be fit to come before the holy God, fit even on the outside.

Proclaiming It: Here is a periodic and general reminder to speak slowly while proclaiming the word of God. So that your listeners begin to “get it” as early as possible, read the one- and two-syllable words of the first sentence slowly, making sure everyone hears the vivid words “scab or pustule or blotch.” In the rest of the sentences, emphasize the word “unclean.”

SOURCE: Greg Warnusz at LectorPrep.org

Reflections

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Fr. Clement Thibodeau

Those in sin are separated from the community

FIRST READING — This Book from the Law of Moses was written as a book of instructions for the Levites who were hereditary servants of God at the Temple in Jerusalem. It contains rules and regulations meant toassure their worthiness as God’s special servants. Spiritual cleanliness was manifested by bodily cleanliness. No blemish of any kind was permitted in the heart or on the body of anyone serving in the Temple. Skin diseases were considered particularly loathsome. Persons with such skin diseases were excluded from the fellowship of those who worshipped God. Often the rabbis in later ages came to diagnose the ailment of lepers as a spiritual disease. They were sinners. They, and those who had contact with them, were considered unfit for God’s service. Cleansing a leper was considered to be close to rescuing a person from death.

© 2017 Portland Diocese / Father Clement D. Thibodeau. Used with permission.

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Fr. Eamon Tobin

Leprosy

FIRST READING — In Old Testament times, leprosy is a term used to describe a variety of chronic skin diseases. When the priest determines that one has a contagious disease, the person is declared “unclean” and banished from the community. If someone unknowingly approaches the leper, he/she must shout “Unclean! Unclean!” for such contact renders the “clean” person “unclean.” If a leper is cured, he must go to the priest to undergo purification before he can be readmitted to the community. Because there is widespread belief that leprosy is brought on by sin, lepers are not only physically loathsome and socially dangerous, but are also viewed as morally reprehensible.

©2020 Fr. Eamon Tobin. Used with permission. Table of Contents

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Sr. Mary McGlone

LEVITICUS 13:1-2, 44-46

The name of the Book of Leviticus comes from the name Levi which designated the priestly tribe of the people of Israel. Much of the book is concerned with the cult and its priestly functions. Under that general rubric, we find a great concern for holiness which is often connected to wholeness.

When we realize that proof of a scientific germ theory explaining the spread of disease did not become common until the early 1800s, we can appreciate the fact that approaches to disease and sick people that may seem odd or even cruel to us were based on a different worldview. For the ancient Israelites, any skin disease could be considered unclean. To be unclean was tantamount to being unholy. Uncleanliness was contagious in the sense that contact with the unholy made a person unholy or unclean as well. Then to add to the problem, most people understood disease and even bad luck as signs of God’s justice: The afflicted person was being punished. Such a philosophy made it virtuous to avoid people whose conditions might be disgusting, thereby doubling down on the tendency to marginate the afflicted ones.

On a more unconscious level, leprosy is symbolic of everything we fear. It represents the loss of beauty, of bodily integrity and then relationships. As the reading from Leviticus points out, someone with a visible skin disease was to be kept separate from the community. Thus, a “leper,” someone who had a skin disease that could be as simple as acne or as vexatious as psoriasis or shingles, was not only miserable, but really relegated to exist in an atmosphere of the living dead because of their social isolation. People feared lepers because they reminded them of their own subjection to decay. Shunning the leper was, among other things, an unconscious social mechanism that protected the group from facing its own frailty and mortality. Sociologically the “lepers” were scapegoats: Isolating them seemed to offer protection against all that their condition symbolized.

About the only good thing that could be said about their condition was that it was not necessarily permanent. A person whose skin disease was healed could be declared ritually clean and readmitted to society. That, too, offered subconscious comfort to society: the possibility of a reprieve against danger and death.

When we allow ourselves to be conscious of the social tendency to find scapegoats to represent our guilt and suffer the consequences, this reading calls us to remember the counter-example of Christ. He continually reached out to people shunned by society and, at the same time, he frequently criticized those who rejected them as hypocrites who were often guiltier than the people they accused of sin. This can lead us to consider who the “lepers” in our society are and to further ask why we fear them and how they represent that which we reject in ourselves. If we would but follow Jesus in his outreach to the outcast, we would find that we not only do a better job of loving our neighbor, but that greater and honest self-acceptance will appear in our lives as well.

©2018 National Catholic Reporter. All Rights Reserved. Sr. Mary McGlone is a Sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet. 2018 Reflections, 2020 Reflections can be read at National Catholic Reporter website.

Commentary Excerpts

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Theology of Work Commentary

Dealing with Skin Diseases and Mold Infections (Leviticus 13-14)

FIRST READING—In contrast to the dietary laws, the laws about diseases and environmental contamination do seem to be primarily concerned with health. Health is a critical issue today as well, and even if the book of Leviticus were not in the Bible, it would still be a noble and godly concern. But it would be unwise to assume that Leviticus provides instructions for coping with contagious diseases and environmental contamination that we can directly apply today. At our distance of thousands of years from that time period, it is difficult even to be certain exactly what diseases the passages refer to. The enduring message of Leviticus is that the Lord is the God of life and that he guides, honors, and ennobles all those who bring healing to people and the environment. If the particular rules of Leviticus do not dictate the way we perform the work of healing and environmental protection, then certainly this greater point does.

SOURCE: © 2014 Theology of Work Project, Inc.; Used with permission. (Licensed under CC BY-NC 4.0.)

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Life Recovery Bible

The compassion of Jesus

13:1–15:33 These detailed health regulations excluded many Israelites from the larger society. They were banned from fellowship with others for being “ceremonially unclean.” Lepers and prostitutes were automatically unclean, according to the law, and were thus ostracized.

This fact should help us appreciate even more the compassionate heart of Jesus Christ. He healed lepers and the woman who had been hemorrhaging for 12 years; he talked with prostitutes and other outcasts. He cared most about the needy, the unclean. He considered it his work to show them the road to recovery and forgiveness.

SOURCE: Content taken from The Life Recovery Bible notes by Stephen Arterburn & David Stoop. Copyright © 1998, 2017. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, a Division of Tyndale House Ministries. All rights reserved.

Bible Study

Exegesis Outline

Sunday’s First Reading

  • No exegesis for this week on the first reading.
Richard Niell Donavan, a Disciples of Christ clergyman, published SermonWriter from 1997 until his death in 2020. His wife Dale has graciously kept his website online. A subscription is no longer required.

The Law Concerning Leprosy

In the First Reading, the prophet Elijah invoked God’s divine name and healed a Gentile leper named Naaman. His act proved that Israel’s God was stronger than any human contagion, whether it was leprosy or sin. The miracle also prefigured the healing and restoration of the Gentile peoples of the earth to fellowship with God as promised by the prophets and fulfilled in Christ Jesus.


It was the duty of the priests of the Sinai Covenant to preside over the prescribed communal and individual voluntary sacrifices in the liturgical worship services.  They also had other duties to perform for the community recorded in this section of the Book of Leviticus, including public health duties.  They were to examine and make decisions on health issues that could become hazardous to the entire community. The procedure for suspicious skin conditions consisted of examination and isolation for seven days before the priest reached a final determination.  The chief concern in these public health examinations was, of course, the dangerously contagious skin disease of leprosy.  Today some medications can contain and control leprosy; however, in the ancient world, the condition condemned a person to a life of miserable isolation and a slow and disfiguring death.

It was a tragedy for a covenant member to be diagnosed with a contagious skin disease like leprosy.  They were expelled from the community and forced to live alone or in groups with others in the same physically “unclean” state (Lk 17:12).  They were required to show physical signs of their forced separation by shaving their heads, wearing torn garments, and covering their beards, all signs of death, penance, and mourning (Lev 10:6; Ez 24:17).  They could not offer sacrifices in the desert Sanctuary, nor, in Jesus’ time, could they join the congregations of the local Synagogues or worship in the Jerusalem Temple because their unclean condition made them “unfit” for communal worship.

In 2 Kings 5:8, the prophet Elijah invoked God’s divine name and healed a Gentile leper named Naaman.  His act proved that the mercy of Israel’s God was not limited to the Israelites, and He was more powerful than any human contagion, whether it was leprosy or sin.  The miracle also prefigured the healing and restoration of the Gentile peoples of the earth to fellowship with God.  Elijah’s deed, under the power of the Holy Spirit, proved he was Yahweh’s holy prophet.

Jesus also healed lepers (today’s Gospel Reading).  However, He is far more than a prophet like Elijah.  Jesus is God visiting His people (Ez 34:11-12, 15-16) to heal them, restore them, and raise them above their ordinary lives to a holy, internal purity.  He will raise them to holiness through the Sacrament of Baptism in His death and resurrection and make them fit for worship in the Kingdom of Heaven.

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.

Responsorial Psalm

6B Ordinary Time

Ps 32:1-2, 5, 11

This is one of the seven “penitential psalms’ in the Psalter. It is a prayer of thanksgiving for the removal of sins.

PSALMS 32:1-2, 5, 11

What the ancients called leprosy was a disease that respected no moral code among its victims. It could afflict the good and the bad, the potentate as well as the peasant, working the same havoc on each of their lives. People with leprosy, like people with any other disease, turned to God for healing. When people of deep faith received the cure they sought or simply came to a deeper awareness of God’s love, they would have easily sung the refrain of today’s psalm, rejoicing in how God can turn any sorrow into joy.

The text of Psalm 32 takes the question of healing from disease into the realm of sin and forgiveness. Leprosy is understood as symbolic of sinfulness as well as the isolation we bring on ourselves when we destroy our relationships. Forgiveness implies the healing of those ills. Underneath our Judeo-Christian faith, there is a deep intuition that sin brings death. Although we may not always fully appreciate the logical conclusion that confession and forgiveness therefore bring life and healing, that is what Psalm 32 celebrates.

As we pray this psalm, it is crucial that we recognize the importance of the second stanza. The psalmist says: “I acknowledged my sin … and you took away the guilt.” Open recognition of my sin is the opposite of the scapegoating which blames another for ill. Scapegoating harms the innocent and suppresses the real problem such that it only grows more powerful in darkness and silence. As many as 2,500 years ago, Hebrew wisdom taught that the more we hide our sin, the more power it has over us. The psalmist tells us that confessing our faults is the necessary path to allowing God to take away our guilt. (If you want confirmation of that, ask anyone who has gone through the 12-step program of recovery from addiction.)

The power of this psalm-prayer depends on the depth with which we take in its message. If we ask for help simply to get out of our scrapes, to be rescued from the results of our waywardness, we are asking God to act like a crafty lawyer. Unfortunately, that is not God’s specialty. If, on the other hand, we turn to God to heal the deep causes of our selfishness or fear, we will find that our time of trouble can become a time of salvation. Christ will be waiting to touch us at whatever depth we open to him. When that happens, we will understand what we sing at the Easter Vigil, “O happy fault that earned so great, so glorious a Redeemer!”

©2017 National Catholic Reporter. All Rights Reserved. Sr. Mary McGlone is a Sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet. 2017 Reflections, 2020 Reflections can be read at National Catholic Reporter website.🔴🔴🔴🔴🔴🔴🔴🔴🔴🔴🔴🔴 INTRODUCTION 🔴🔴🔴 PSALM 🔴🔴🔴🔴🔴🔴🔴🔴🔴🔴🔴🔴🔴🔴🔴🔴🔴🔴🔴🔴🔴🔴🔴🔴🔴🔴🔴🔴🔴🔴🔴🔴🔴🔴🔴🔴🔴🔴🔴🔴🔴🔴🔴🔴🔴🔴🔴

Commentary Excerpts

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Life Recovery Bible

Confessing our sins before God

Psalm 32:1-4 When we get serious about our past sins, admitting each of them and seeking to make amends, we will probably find that most people are willing to forgive us. Making amends for our past failures and reconciling our relationships is an important part of the recovery process.

We see in this psalm that being reconciled to God begins as we admit our sins to him. He will forgive us; we can count on it! When we try to hide our sins from God, our life becomes dysfunctional and miserable. Our inner beings become tied up in knots, and we once again begin to lose control. Why fight it? Confessing our sins to God is the first step toward having a joyful heart.

Psalm 32:5-9 Like David, we need to confess our sins before God and admit them to the people we have wronged. By doing so, we set a good example for others who are also having a hard time admitting their sins to God. We also set our heart free of the destructive grip of guilt and can reestablish the healthy relationships we all need for a full recovery. God wants to give us a full and productive life, but we must respond willingly to his commands.

SOURCE: Content taken from Life Application Study Bible, Third Edition. Copyright © 2019. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, a Division of Tyndale House Ministries. All rights reserved.

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Turn to God for Restoration from Sin

The psalm is attributed to King David after God forgave him of his sin of adultery with Bathsheba, which led to her husband’s arranged death (2 Sam chapter 11 and 12:13).  It is the second of the seven Penitential Psalms of the Church (see Pss 6; 32; 38; 51; 102; 130 and 143).  The psalmist does not claim to be innocent of his sin.  He expresses his repentance and the covering of his guilt through the sacrificial blood ritual of the sin sacrifice (Lev 4:27-35).  Through God’s representative, the priest, he makes his offering to God, seeking atonement for his sin and receiving, in God’s name, the priest’s pronouncement of forgiveness (Lev 4:35b).  Sin is in both the act and its injurious consequences. The forgiveness comes not through the sacrifice of the animal itself but the humble contrition of the penitent sinner (Ps 51:18-19).  The psalmist acknowledges that blessed is the person who experiences God’s mercy and forgiveness (verses 1-2), which allows him to approach God with a sincere heart (verses 5, 11).

In the Church’s Penitential Psalms, we celebrate the happiness of the person who acknowledges that God forgives his sins through the blood sacrifice of Jesus Christ in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  However, Christ’s blood does not merely cover our sins (as in the old covenants) but washes us clean and restores us to fellowship with God and the community of the faithful.  In this connection, Church Father and Archbishop of Constantinople St. John Chrysostom (c. 344/354-407) wrote, quoting from Psalm 32:5 ~ “Shall I remind you of the different paths of repentance?  For there are many, each distinct and different, and they all lead to heaven.  The first way of penance consists in the accusation and acknowledgment of sin […] For this reason, the psalmist says: ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord, and you forgave the guilt of my sin.’  Therefore, if you condemn in yourself the deed by which you gave offense, the confession will obtain your pardon before the Lord; for the one who condemns his offense makes it more difficult for himself to commit that sin again.  Ensure that your conscience is always alert: it will be your private prosecutor, and then there will be no one else to accuse you before the tribunal of God.  This is the first and best path of penitence” (De diabolo tentatore, 6).

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.

Second Reading

6B Ordinary Time

Key Topics

Imitate me as I do Christ

1 Corinthians 10:31-11:1

  • The passage from 1 Corinthians refers to a concern the early Christians had about eating meat that had been sacrificed to idols.
  • Paul makes the point that our behavior toward others is more important than what we eat or drink.
  • Paul’s advice is to avoid offending one another at all costs.
SOURCE: Our Sunday Visitor

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Proclamation Tips for Lectors

🟫🟫🟫🟫🟫🟫🟫 LECTOR’S NOTES 🟫🟫 SECOND READING 🟫🟫🟫🟫🟫🟫🟫🟫🟫

Paul J. Schlachter

Points to consider

  • The apostle is exhorting the church of Corinth to build bridges among themselves.  This new (local) church must have more sensitivity toward those who make it up.  Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the (universal) church of God.
  • He gives them his own example to follow in that respect.  Just as I donot seeking my own benefit but that of the many.
  • The need for this message in our multicultural church has only been heightened, and I will make that clear by the direct way I announce it.  The motive has nothing to do with “getting along,” but with being true to Christ.

Key elements

  • Climax: The often quoted lines at the very end.  Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.
  • The message for our assembly: Everyone is called to service in the church.  Do we seek ourselves or do we look to the needs of others?
  • I will challenge myself: To reflect faithfully the man Paul who offered his own life among the people as an example.  A few of us might be able to say that with dramatic conviction.  But do our lives measure up?
SOURCE: Paul J. Schlachter at LectorWorks.org
Greg Warnusz

Introducing the reading at Mass

The Historical Background: Corinth was a Greek seaport. The combination of sailors’ morals, Greek philosophy, and religious ideas shipped in from all around made for a potent brew. Categories hadn’t begun to harden into simple “Protestant, Catholic and Jew.” Saint Paul worked to help the nascent Christian community find the truths that would keep it distinct from its pagan neighbors (see above).

So questions came up that, from our distant vantage point, seem bizarre. One such question was, “Is it OK for us to eat foods that have been previously used in pagan worship rituals?” Apparently the thrifty pagans sold or took home what the gods did not consume; a Christian could find himself shopping in a market or invited to a home where such goods were offered. In prior verses Paul has told them of course they cannot participate in pagan worship, but of course they can later buy or eat such food “without raising any question of conscience.” But if someone objects “That food has been offered to idols,” the Christian is to refrain, not because the idols mean anything, but in order not to scandalize the other person.

Then he sums it up, “All things are lawful, but not all are advantageous” (verse 23), and, in our selection, “whether you eat or drink, whatever you do, do it for the glory of God. Give no offense to Jew or Greek or the church of God.”

Proclaiming It: Read this slowly and with authority, as if you were summing up the preceding teaching (which is what the author was doing). Now you know the subtleties behind the words. Speak them with the conviction that comes from that understanding.

SOURCE: Greg Warnusz at LectorPrep.org

Reflections

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Fr. Clement Thibodeau

Everything we do must be for God’s glory

SECOND READING — 1 Corinthians brings to a close a long section on the relationship between personal freedom and communal responsibility. In the end, for Christians, the governing principle needs to be whatever leads to the glory of God. There can be no barriers to the Gospel. Our personal advantages must be subordinated to the needs that others have for salvation. “We are nothing,” Paul would say. “Christ is everything!”

© 2017 Portland Diocese / Father Clement D. Thibodeau. Used with permission.

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Fr. Eamon Tobin

The glory of God

SECOND READING — This reading concludes Paul’s teaching on whether it is lawful for Christians to eat food of the meat of animals that had been offered to idols in pagan sacrifices.

Paul sees no problem in eating such food since Christians do not believe in idols. Therefore, the food is not unclean. However, Paul is exhorting the stronger members of this community to be sensitive to the weaker members (or less formed members) to abstain from such food if it might cause a scandal to new members who may still believe that eating such food is a form of idolatry. Paul is encouraging the more formed members of the community to sacrifice some of their freedom for the glory of God. “Whatever you do … do for the glory of God.”

When Paul says he seeks “to please everyone in every way,” he does not mean that he is giving up his principles in order to be a ‘crowd pleaser,’ but rather sacrificing his freedom in order to make the Gospelattractive to those he is seeking to evangelize.

©2020 Fr. Eamon Tobin. Used with permission.

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Sr. Mary McGlone

1 CORINTHIANS 10:31-11:1

In this section of his first letter to the Corinthians, Paul is trying to deal with questions of freedom and scandal. While he believes that the Christian is free from the law and can eat anything, including food that has been sacrificed to idols, he is concerned for the people who would be shocked by such behavior. In trying to find a way to tell his companions that they are free to do anything except offend others, he comes up with a solution that offers food for meditation about everything in life, not just about what one buys at the market or puts on the table.

“Whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God.” By saying that, Paul is calling his community to a constant imitation of Christ. Everything they do should proclaim God’s goodness to the world. Even more, everything they do should be a sign of the sort of glory Jesus manifested. That was not the glory of the empire or even the philosophers, but the glory of the one who could give up everything for love of humanity (Philippians 2). To give glory to God is to live by a standard of self-giving love.

Paul’s advice about the specific situation that led him to make this statement is a perfect example of what he means. While people are free to eat or drink anything, their concern for others overrides any exercise of freedom; God is glorified in love not license. That, of course, does not mean they should never offend. Paul himself has risked lots of offense in the course of this letter, but that, too, was for the glory of God because he was insisting that his people be true to who they were called to be.

Paul’s call to do everything we do for the glory of God is a far more demanding standard than any set of laws. The Ignatian examen of consciousness encourages people to look back on their day and recognize where they met God, where they responded well and where they did not. Paul’s injunction might be seen as more proactive. Instead of reviewing our actions, Paul suggests that we cultivate the awareness that we can make every decision about what we do based on the standard of what gives greater glory to God. This is an ongoing orientation to life that goes further than honesty or hard-working effort. It suggests that there are many goods from which to choose and our decisions should be made in terms of what action will be the most revealing of Christ’s self-emptying love.

©2018 National Catholic Reporter. All Rights Reserved. Sr. Mary McGlone is a Sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet. Her 2020 Reflections can be read at National Catholic Reporter website.

Commentary Excerpts

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🟥🟥🟥🟥🟥🟥🟥 THEOLOGY OF WORK 🟥🟥 SECOND READING 🟥🟥🟥🟥🟥🟥🟥🟥🟥

Theology of Work Commentary

God’s Glory is the Ultimate Goal (1 Corinthians 10)

SECOND READING— In the course of an extended argument beginning in chapter 8 on an issue of critical importance to believers in Corinth—the propriety of eating meat that had previously been offered to idols—Paul articulates a broad principle concerning the use of the earth’s resources. He says, quoting Psalm 24:1, “The earth and its fullness are the Lord’s” (1 Cor. 10:26). That is, because everything comes from God, any food may be eaten irrespective of its previous use for pagan cultic purposes. (In a Roman city, much of the meat sold in the market would have been offered to idols in the course of its preparation.[1]) There are two aspects of this principle that apply to work.

First, we may extend Paul’s logic to conclude that believers may use all that the earth produces, including food, clothing, manufactured goods, and energy. However, Paul sets a sharp limit to this use. If our use harms another person, then we should refrain. If the context of a dinner party at which meat offered to idols is the issue, then another person’s conscience may be the reason we need to refrain from eating it. If the context is worker safety, resource scarcity, or environmental degrada­tion, then the well-being of today’s workers, the access to resources by today’s poor, and the living conditions of tomorrow’s population may be the reasons we refrain from consuming certain items. Since God is the owner of the earth and its fullness, the use we make of the earth must be in line with his purposes.

Second, we are expected to engage in commerce with nonbelievers, as we have already seen from 1 Corinthians 5:9–10. If Christians were buying meat only from Christian butchers, or even from Jews, then of course there would have been no reason to worry whether it had been of­fered to idols. But Paul asserts that believers are to engage in commerce with society at large. (The concerns in chapter 8 also assume that Chris­tians will engage in social relationships with nonbelievers, although that is not our topic here.) Christians are not called to withdraw from society but to engage society, including society’s places of work. As noted earlier, Paul discusses the limits to this engagement in 2 Corinthians 6:14–18 (see “Working with Nonbelievers” in 2 Corinthians).

“Therefore, whatever you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do ev­erything for the glory of God,” says Paul (1 Cor. 10:31). This verse by no means legitimates every conceivable activity. It should not be construed to mean that absolutely anything could be done in a way that brings glory to God. Paul’s point is that we have to discern whether our actions—including work—are consistent with God’s purposes in the world. The criterion is not whether we associate with nonbelievers, whether we use materials that could be used for ill by others, whether we deal with people who are not friends with God, but whether the work we do contributes to God’s purposes. If so, then whatever we do will indeed be done for the glory of God.

The upshot is that all vocations that add genuine value to God’s cre­ated world in a way that benefits humanity are true callings that bring God glory. The farmer and grocery clerk, the manufacturer and the emis­sions regulator, the parent and the teacher, the voter and the governor can enjoy the satisfaction of serving in God’s plan for his creation.

SOURCE: © 2014 Theology of Work Project, Inc.; Used with permission. (Licensed under CC BY-NC 4.0.)

🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩 LIFE RECOVERY COMMENTARY 🟩🟩 SECOND READING 🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩

Life Recovery Bible

Achieving freedom that we long for

9:15-18 Paul gave up his right to be paid for his work in the ministry, choosing instead to support himself. The point wasn’t whether or not he should have been paid. He was illustrating the principle that when God has called us to do something, we may have to give up some of our rights and freedoms to accomplish it. If we hope to progress in recovery, our relationship with Jesus Christ and adherence to his program need to take the central place in our life. We may need to give up some of our possessions, activities, and codependent relationships to achieve the freedom that we long for.

Sharing the Good News

9:19-23 An essential part of recovery is sharing the Good News of God’s forgiveness and help. Paul shows us that if we want to communicate to others, we must first take the time to understand where they are coming from. Paul listened to his audience and found common ground with them before he helped them change. As we seek to help others, we begin by gaining their confidence. We don’t need to be good at winning arguments; we need to be good at listening and showing that we care. Paul listened to the needs of people and then presented his message in a way that met their specific needs. We can do the same as we carry the message of hope to hurting people.

SOURCE: Content taken from The Life Recovery Bible notes by Stephen Arterburn & David Stoop. Copyright © 1998, 2017. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, a Division of Tyndale House Ministries. All rights reserved.

Bible Study

Exegesis Outline

Sunday’s Second Reading

  • No exegesis for this week on the second reading.
Richard Niell Donavan, a Disciples of Christ clergyman, published SermonWriter from 1997 until his death in 2020. His wife Dale has graciously kept his website online. A subscription is no longer required.

For the Glory of God

In the Second Reading, St. Paul reminds us that every Christian is morally responsible for his actions and the negative or positive influence his actions might have on others. All human efforts should give glory to God by living “in imitation of Christ.” In this way, others who view your life as sanctified to God may be encouraged to follow your example, which could lead them to a relationship with Christ and their eternal salvation.

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.

Every Christian is morally responsible for his actions and the negative or positive influence his actions might have on others.  It is the right use of Christian freedom expressed first negatively (verse 32), and then positively, as exemplified in Paul’s life (verse 33), and finally as grounded in Christ (11:1).  All actions should give glory to God by living “in imitation of Christ.”  In this way, others who view your life as sanctified to God may be encouraged to follow your example, leading them to conversion and eternal salvation.

Such small actions as wearing a cross or offering a prayer before meals in a public place give a witness to others of your faith in Christ Jesus.  St. Basil the Great (c. 330/357-379), bishop of Caesarea Mazaca in Cappadocia, Asia Minor, commented on this passage from 1 Corinthians by writing: “When you sit down to eat bread, do so, thanking him for being so generous to you.  If you drink wine, be mindful of him who has given it to you for your pleasure and as a relief in sickness.  When you dress, thank him for his kindness in providing you with clothes.  When you look at the sky and the beauty of the stars, throw yourself at God’s feet and adore him, who in his wisdom has arranged things in this way.  Similarly, when the sun goes down and when it rises, when you are asleep or awake, give thanks to God, who created and arranged all things for your benefit, to have you know, love and praise the Creator” (Hom. in Julittam, martyrem).

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.

Gospel Reading

6B Ordinary Time

Key Topics

If you will do so, you can cure me

Mark 1:40-45

  • The Gospel story shows that Jesus not only has the power to cure disease, he also has the power to heal the separation from the community and the separation from God, which leprosy signified.
  • Jesus’ approach to the leper would have scandalized the people of his time.
  • By touching the leper, Jesus demonstrated the arrival of the kingdom of God.

SOURCE: Our Sunday Visitor🔴🔴🔴🔴🔴🔴🔴🔴🔴🔴🔴🔴 OUR SUNDAY VISITOR INTRO 🔴🔴🔴 GOSPEL 🔴🔴🔴🔴🔴🔴🔴🔴🔴🔴🔴🔴🔴🔴🔴🔴🔴🔴🔴🔴🔴🔴🔴🔴🔴🔴🔴🔴🔴🔴🔴🔴🔴🔴🔴🔴🔴🔴🔴🔴🔴🔴🔴🔴🔴🔴🔴

Proclamation Tips

🟫🟫🟫🟫🟫🟫🟫 LECTOR’S NOTES 🟫🟫 GOSPEL READING 🟫🟫🟫🟫🟫🟫🟫🟫🟫

Paul J. Schlachter

Points to consider

  • I have just finished studying the lesson in Leviticus about the ritual impurity of the lepers in Israel and the apartheid to which they must resign themselves.  The leper colony in Ben Hur might be an authentic portrayal of that definitive lifetime separation.  As I read the Gospel passage, I notice that every detail stands out in sharp contrast to the concern of the Law over uncleanness.
  • A leper came to Jesus.  For shame!  He broke the barrier between the clean and unclean, and is in further violation of the Law.  Perhaps – No! probably! – Jesus walked up close to a colony, so that the inhabitants would be expected to shake their bells and warn him away.  I wouldn’t put it beyond him.  So the lepers had heard of him, too.
  • The leper, kneeling down begged him: If you wish you can make me clean.  Kneeling down has to do with the divine Jesus.  And so does ritual cleansing.  If God declares things unclean, God can declare things and people clean.
  • The priests had their careful examination of the skin.  And Jesus?  Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand, touched him.  What counts is the humanity of the leper.
  • I do will it.  Be made clean.  Jesus did not confirm the broken skin and bones he saw on the surface.  He created a new man.  Where there was a warning of impending evil and judgment, he erected the open-ended promise of life.  God wills that all be made clean.  That is why Jesus presents to us in his life and mission the fullness of God.  No wonder he was made clean.
  • He said to him, See that you tell no one anything.  And so begins the Messianic secret in Mark, a convenient way to keep people from misconstruing the man and his mission.  As for the former leper, he went away and began to publicize the whole matter.  Today we have our talk shows and our blogs, so we know how even two hundred million people can hear a story in a day and blow it out of proportion.  But still I wonder: Could I be true to Christ if I kept such wonderful things to myself?

Key elements

  • Climax: The new pronouncement of the Lord.  I want it!  Be clean!
  • Message for our assembly: Jesus broke down barriers between people, and we are called to stand especially alongside the afflicted of the world.  Now is not the time to keep the Messianic secret to ourselves!
  • I will challenge myself: To echo in my voice the authoritative voice of the Master.

Word to Eucharist

Who in this procession – in my estimation – does not belong here?  But how do I know this?  And would Jesus reject them, too?

SOURCE: Paul J. Schlachter at LectorWorks.org

Reflections

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Fr. Clement Thibodeau

Jesus heals us and restores us to community

GOSPEL —The Evangelist, Mark, introduces us to the very heart of the Gospel message: Jesus Christ has come to break through the power of sin and evil and to usher in healing and salvation. All barriers, even the most sacred, must be broken down. Confronting evil in its very face -naming a sin, touching a leper -becomes the first act of divine power leading to healing and wholeness. Ultimately, Jesus will stand up even to death itself on the cross and break through to life on the other side of death.

Jesus knows very well that he will incur legal defilement if he touches the leper. He will be considered “unclean,” excluded from the fellowship of the community just like the leper. Jesus does not hesitate to identify with the outcast. He reaches out to this person in his isolation and exclusion. By reaching out, Jesus bridges the chasm of loneliness, fear, despair and rage into which the leper has been cast.

Jesus even dares to confront the sacred Law of Moses in order to reach out and touch the man with leprosy. Even the most sacred must give way to the power of the Son of God.

However, Jesus proves that he has no scorn for the Law of Moses: he sends the man to the priest for verification of the healing. In addition, he is unwilling to accept false glory that might come from his miracles; he reserves that for the time of authentic glory that will come after his Passion and death.

The most remarkable and extraordinary feature of the life and teaching of Jesus Christ consists in the fact that he invites us to become his disciples, to become like him, to reproduce his values in our lives, to do his works, to become “other Christs”to one another and to the whole world. Discipleship is our first callingor primary destiny. We sit at the feet of the Divine Master; it is our privilege to internalize the values and standards of his life.

© 2017 Portland Diocese / Father Clement D. Thibodeau. Used with permission.

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Fr. Eamon Tobin

Messianic secret

GOSPEL — Although excluded from the community, lepers are allowed to attend synagogue, but they sit behind a protected screen, never daring to come into the main part of the synagogue. While we do not know the exact location of today’s event, perhaps it occurs during a synagogue service. Recognizing Jesus to be a holy man, the leper may have done the unthinkable: he rushes from behind the screen and approaches Jesus. He believes Jesus can heal him, but he was not sure if Jesus will want to heal him. “If you wish, make me clean.” Then Jesus does the unthinkable, he stretches out his hand and touches the untouchable, thereby incurring ritual uncleanness. Jesus tells the rejected man: “Of course I want to heal you. Be made clean.”Jesus’ touch heals the man not only on a physical level but also on a social and spiritual level. He no longer feels rejected by the community or by God.

We notice again a reference to the messianic secret (explained in last week’s commentary). The leper is told not to tell anyone about his healing – but how does one contain wonderful good news? So he runs off and tells everyone. The man is told to go to the priest so he can get a certificate declaring himself clean, enabling him to once again mix with the community and worship with them.

©2020 Fr. Eamon Tobin. Used with permission.

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Sr. Mary McGlone

MARK 1:40-45

We might do well to listen to today’s Gospel, and even everything that follows, as filling out Jesus’ statement “For that I have come” (1:38). Jesus’ fame had spread and he was making his way through the villages of Galilee. Then Mark tells us that a leper came out to Jesus.

Mark does nothing to identify this person. He mentions no name, he doesn’t tell us when this happened or where. It’s as if this afflicted man appears on the scene to represent everyone who needs what Jesus has come to offer. The man tells Jesus,“If you wish, you can make me clean.” It is almost as if he were looking for confirmation of the reason for which Jesus came, asking, “Is this it?” The man clearly believes that Jesus has the power to heal him, but the leper wants to know if that is also Jesus’ desire.

Mark describes Jesus’ response in highly emotional terms. First, he is moved with pity. The term pity does not imply that Jesus felt sorry for him, but rather that he had compassion, that Jesus felt with him. This compassion is a feeling of solidarity referring to how a mother feels for the child of her womb. It is a feeling that is so affective that it has physical repercussions. Just as he had done with Peter’s mother-in-law, Jesus stretched out his hand and touched the man. As if confirming that the man had correctly assessed his mission, Jesus said, “I do will it.” Then, like God the Creator, Jesus spoke a word and what he said came about. He said, “Be made clean,” and the leprosy left the man.

In the next movement of the story, Jesus makes the formidable demand that the man tell no one anything. Instead of spreading the story, he is supposed to present his situation to the priest and to make the prescribed offering as a testimony that he had been healed. The fact that Jesus sent the man to the priest suggests that that the former leper became the first apostle, the first person Jesus sent out to give testimony to him. And the first testimony Jesus ordered was directed to the religious leaders of his day. Mark never tells whether or not he spoke to the priest, but he did spread the word about Jesus and his power.

©2018 National Catholic Reporter. All Rights Reserved. Sr. Mary McGlone is a Sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet. Her 2020 Reflections can be read at National Catholic Reporter website.

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Fr. George Smiga

Touching the leper

GOSPEL — There are no zombies in the bible. But lepers would come rather close to creating the fear that we associate with the walking dead. Leprosy was a terrible disease that gradually ate away at the body. The people of Jesus’ time did not understand the disease, but they knew it could spread. So they quarantined lepers. (All you have to do is think of the recent events regarding the Ebola crisis to gain some sense of the concern and panic that leprosy caused in the ancient world.) So, if somebody with a dreaded and contagious skin disease would come up to you and want to shake your hand, what would you do? All of us would pull back and say, “No, stay away. There’s no sense that both of us become infected.” We would keep the leper away. Jesus does not. In today‘s gospel when he sees the leper he is moved to compassion. He stretches out his hand and touches him. Why would Jesus do this? He is not inviting us to set aside medical hygiene and go around touching infected people. Jesus touches the leper to show us what God does. Jesus reveals in this action that our God is willing to push past any barrier to touch and to save the infected, the ostracized, and the doomed.

Now this is good news for us because we are the leper. “Now wait a minute,” you say, “I’m not a leper. I’m healthy. I have family and friends around me. My life is good and successful.” And, if that’s the case, then this gospel is not your gospel—or this gospel is not your gospel today. But this is the gospel to remember if your life takes a downward turn. If your health fails, and you have to deal with sickness that limits your mobility or threatens your survival, this gospel tells you that God will not forget you and that even in your sickness God desires to touch you. When your relationships fall apart, when your marriage fails, your family splits, or people you trust turn away, this gospel tells you that God is still in your corner and that God still desires to save you. When we mess things up because of greed or selfishness or pride or weakness, it is easy for us to feel that we no longer have value. We fell that we are unclean, that we no longer deserve to be loved. This gospel tells us that our sins and our failures are no barriers to God. We are not contagious to Jesus. He still has the power to make us whole.

So, on days that we are healthy and happy, we should give thanks and praise God. But on the days when we are the leper, this gospel is our hope. Although we may see ourselves as the walking dead, God still sees us as beloved daughters and sons. And, if we call out, we will feel God’s touch and hear, “I do will it. Be made clean.”

©2021 Building on the Word.org. All Rights Reserved. More homilies can be read at Building on the Word website.

Commentary Excerpts

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🟥🟥🟥🟥🟥🟥🟥 THEOLOGY OF WORK 🟥🟥 GOSPEL 🟥🟥🟥🟥🟥🟥🟥🟥🟥

Theology of Work Commentary

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GOSPEL— No commentary for this reading.

SOURCE: © 2014 Theology of Work Project, Inc.; Used with permission. (Licensed under CC BY-NC 4.0.)

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Life Recovery Bible

___

GOSPEL— No commentary for this reading.

SOURCE: Content taken from The Life Recovery Bible notes by Stephen Arterburn & David Stoop. Copyright © 1998, 2017. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, a Division of Tyndale House Ministries. All rights reserved.

Bible Study

Exegesis Outline

Sunday’s Gospel

Richard Niell Donavan, a Disciples of Christ clergyman, published SermonWriter from 1997 until his death in 2020. His wife Dale has graciously kept his website online. A subscription is no longer required.

Jesus Heals and Cleanses a Leper

In the Gospel Reading, Jesus stretches out His hand, pronounces His divine word, and cleanses a leper, restoring him to his community and making him fit to offer God worship in the Temple. The same miracle happens in the Sacrament of Reconciliation (Penance). We confess our sins to the Lord, and through the outstretched hand and divine word spoken by the priest in Jesus’ name, the Lord God takes away the “uncleanness” of our sins and restores us to fellowship with Him and the covenant community.


We read about the Law concerning a person diagnosed with leprosy in the First Reading.  Under Mosaic Law, those persons were virtually excommunicated from the community and doomed to live in poverty and isolation.  Lepers had to wear torn garments with an uncovered head. They had to cry out “unclean” wherever they went, and they had to remain outside the community in deserted places.  The life of a leper was like a living death.  Not only was a leper ritually unclean, but anyone who came in contact with a leper could also become unclean.  A leper could not worship in the Temple until a priest pronounced the person healed and eligible for ritual purification. Anyone in contact with a leper could not worship in the Temple until they had also undergone ritual purification (Lev 13-14).

The Old Testament mentions several cases of leprosy: for example, Miriam (Num 12:10), Naaman (2 Kng 5:10), Gehazi (2 Kng 5:25), King Uzziah (2 Kng 15:5), and four lepers at the siege of Samaria (2 Kng 7:3).  In the New Testament, Jesus healed lepers (Mt 8:1-4; Mk 1:40-42; Lk 5:12-16; 7:22; 17:11-19) and gave the same healing power to His disciples (Mt 10:8).  On Jesus’ last teaching day in Jerusalem, Simon the (former) Leper, who lived in Bethany, welcomed Jesus and His disciples to dinner in His honor on the Wednesday before His crucifixion (Mt 26:6; Mk 14:3).

The leper in our Gospel story makes a bold move in coming to Jesus.  He takes the risk because he has confidence that Jesus can heal him (Mk 1:40).  Jesus feels compassion for the man, and He is not made “unclean” by coming into contact with the leper.  Instead, the leper was “made clean” by contact with Jesus just as we are “cleansed” by contact with Jesus in the Eucharist and the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

Notice that there is a sacramental quality to Jesus healing the man.  Jesus stretches out His hand (verse 41), just as God, by His “outstretched hand,” performed mighty acts to save the Israelites in the Exodus experience and in other glorious deeds in the history of the covenant people (Ex 13:9; 14, 16; 15:6; etc., and as Jesus’ disciples prayed in Acts 4:30).  His divine word accompanies this ritual sign as Jesus says, “I will do it.  Be made clean.”  And like God’s divine words that brought about the Creation event (Gen 1:3, 6, 9, 11, 14, 20, 24, 26, 28, 29; Ps 33:9; Is 48:13), Jesus’ words brought about what He commanded (Jn 1:1-5), whether in healing a leper, raising the dead (Mt 9:24-26/Mk 5:41-42; Lk 7:14-15; Jn 11:43-44), or changing bread and wine into His Body and Blood (Mt 26:26-28; Mk 14:22-25; Lk 22:19-20).

44 Then he said to him, “See that you tell no one anything, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer for your cleansing what Moses prescribed; that will be proof for them.”
Jesus asks the man to keep secret the source of his healing.  This event is the first instance of what Biblical scholars call the “messianic secret” in Mark’s Gospel, where Jesus insists on concealing His true identity until the time He chooses to make the revelation. 

Notice that Jesus tells the man to show himself to a priest (according to the Law in Lev 14:1-20).  The old Sinai Covenant and its laws are still in place and will remain until Jesus fulfills the old and replaces it with the New Covenant (Lk 22:20; Heb 8:7, 13).  In the meantime, Jesus is obedient to the old covenant Law (Mt 5:17-20).  Jesus told the man to show himself to a priest because he has the power under the Law to confirm the man’s healing.  Then, under the priest’s direction, on the eighth day after his examination, the man could return to the Temple to perform the ritual of purification, offer the necessary sacrifices, be restored to the community, and returned to fellowship with God (Lev 14:10).  

Significantly, the ritual of purification for a leper is on the “eighth day” when the man can be restored to the community and fellowship with God in Temple worship.  The eighth day is symbolically the day of the healed person’s “resurrection” to a new life.  The number eight in the significance of numbers in Scripture represents salvation, regeneration, and new life.  The eighth day will be when Jesus Christ is resurrection from the dead, on the day after the seventh day Jewish Sabbath (see CCC 349).  See the document “The Significance of Numbers in Scripture”

44 Then he said to him, “See that you tell no one anything, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer for your cleansing what Moses prescribed; that will be proof for them.”
Jesus cautioned the healed man not to reveal the miracle (verse 44).  The revelation of Jesus’ true identity must not come too soon.  He must fulfill the words of the prophets before the opposition to His ministry climaxes in His Passion.

45 The man went away and began to publicize the whole matter.  He spread the report abroad so that it was impossible for Jesus to enter a town openly.  He remained outside in deserted places, and people kept coming to him from everywhere.
However, the healed leper cannot keep quiet in his joy over his healing and restoration to his family and community (verse 45a).  The former leper experiences restoration to the community, but as for Jesus, it becomes impossible for Him to enter the town because of the large number of people who wanted to see Him (verse 45b).  Ironically, Jesus and the man have traded places.  Jesus has healed the man at a personal cost and has taken on the leper’s previous position outside the towns.  However, Jesus was not isolated because the people came to Him as news continued to spread about His miraculous healings and His authoritative teachings.

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.

Catena Aurea

6B Ordinary Time

The Catena Aurea (Golden Chain) is Thomas Aquinas’ compilation of Patristic commentary on the Gospels. It seamlessly weaves together extracts from various Church Fathers.

Annotated index of Church Fathers used in commentary

Third Century

  • Origen – Alexandrian biblical critic, exegete, theologian, and spiritual writer; analyzed the Scriptures on three levels: the literal, the moral, and the allegorical
  • Cyprian – pagan rhetorician converted to Christianity; acquired acquired a profound knowledge of the Scriptures and the writings of Tertullian; elected bishop of Carthage; martyred in 258

Fourth Century

  • Eusebius – Bishop of Caesarea; author of Ecclesiastical History, the principal source for the history of Christianity from the Apostolic Age till his own day; also wrote a valuable work on Biblical topography called the Onomasticon
  • Athanasius – Bishop of Alexandria; attended the Council of Nicea; opposed Arianism, in defence of the faith proclaimed at Nicaea—that is, the true deity of God the Son
  • Hilary – Bishop of Poitiers; the earliest known writer of hymns in the Western Church; defended the cause of orthodoxy against Arianism; became the leading Latin theologian of his age
  • Gregory of Nazianzus – one of the “Cappadocian Fathers”; a great influence in restoring the Nicene faith and leading to its final establishment at the Council of Constantinople in 381
  • Gregory of Nyssa – one of the “Cappadocian Fathers”; Bishop of Nyssa; took part in the Council of Constantinople
  • Ambrose – Bishop of Milan; partly responsible for the conversion of Augustine; author of Latin hymns; it was through his influence that hymns became an integral part of the liturgy of the Western Church
  • Jerome – biblical scholar; devoted to a life of asceticism and study; his greatest achievement was his translation of the Bible into Latin (the Vulgate); also wrote many biblical commentaries
  • Nemesius – Christian philosopher; Bishop of Emesa in Syria
  • Augustine – Bishop of Hippo (in northern Africa); a “Doctor of the Church”; most famous work is his Confessions; his influence on the course of subsequent theology has been immense
  • Chrysostom – Bishop of Constantinople; a “Doctor of the Church”; a gifted orator; his sermons on Gen, Ps, Isa, Matt, John, Acts, and the Pauline Epistles (including Hebrews) established him as the greatest of Christian expositors
  • Prosper of Aquitaine – theologian; supporter of Augustinian doctrines; closely associated with Pope Leo I (“the Great”)
  • Damasus – pope; active in suppressing heresy
  • Apollinaris of Laodicea – Bishop of Laodicea; close friend of Athanasias; vigorous advocate of orthodoxy against the Arians
  • Amphilochius of Iconium – Bishop of Iconium; close friend of the Cappadocian Fathers; defended the full Divinity of the Holy Spirit

Fifth Century

  • Asterius of Amasea – Arian theologian; some extant homilies on the Psalms attributed to him
  • Evagrius Ponticus – spiritual writer; noted preacher at Constantinople; spent the last third of his life living a monastic life in the desert
  • Isidore of Pelusium – an ascetic and exegete; his extant correspondence contains much of doctrinal, exegetical, and moral interest
  • Cyril of Alexandria – Patriarch of Alexandria; contested Nestorius; put into systematic form the classical Greek doctrines of the Trinity and of the Person of Christ
  • Maximus of Turin – Bishop of Turin; over 100 of his sermons survive
  • Cassion (prob. Cassian) – one of the great leaders of Eastern Christian monasticism; founded two monasteries near Marseilles; best known books the Institutes and the Conferences
  • Chrysologus – Bishop of Ravenna; a “Doctor of the Church”
  • Basil “the Great” – one of the “Cappadocian Fathers”; Bishop of Caesarea; responsible for the Arian controversy’s being put to rest at the Council of Constantinople
  • Theodotus of Ancyra – Bishop of Ancyra; wrote against the teaching of Nestorius
  • Leo the Great – Pope who significantly consolidated the influence of the Roman see; a “Doctor of the Church”; his legates defended Christological orthodoxy at the Council of Chalcedon
  • Gennadius – Patriarch of Constantinople; the author of many commentaries, notably on Genesis, Daniel, and the Pauline Epistles
  • Victor of Antioch – presbyter of Antioch; commentator and collector of earlier exegetical writings
  • Council of Ephesus – declared the teachings of Nestorious heretical, affirming instead the unity between Christ’s human and divine natures
  • Nilus – Bishop of Ancyra; disciple of St John Chrysostom; founder of a monastery; conducted a large correspondence influencing his contemporaries; his writings deal mainly with ascetic and moral subjects

Sixth Century

  • Dionysius Areopagita (aka Dionysius the Pseudo-Areopagite) – mystical theologian; combined Neoplatonism with Christianity; the aim of all his works is the union of the whole created order with God
  • Gregory the Great – Pope; a “Doctor of the Church”; very prolific writer of works on practical theology, pastoral life, expositions of Job, sermons on the Gospels, etc.
  • Isidore – Bishop of Seville; a “Doctor of the Church”; concerned with monastic discipline, clerical education, liturgical uniformity, conversion of the Jews; helped secure Western acceptance of Filioque clause
  • Eutychius (Patriarch of Constan­tinople) – consecrated the church of Hagia Sophia in Constantinople; defended the Chalcedonian faith against an unorthodox sect; became controversial later in life
  • Isaac (Bp. of Nineveh) (aka Isaac the Syrian) – monastic writer on ascetic subjects
  • Severus (Bp. of Antioch) – Syrian Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch; the leading theologian of the moderate Monophysites
  • John Climacus – ascetic and writer on the spiritual life; later Abbot of Mt. Sinai; best known for his Ladder of Divine Ascent which treats of the monastic virtues and vices
  • Fulgentius – Bishop of Ruspe in N. Africa; scholarly disposition; follower of St. Augustine; wrote many treatises against Arianism and Pelagianism

Seventh Century

  • Maximus ( of Constantinople, 645.) – Greek theologian; prolific writer on doctrinal, ascetical, exegetical, and liturgical subjects

Eighth Century

  • Bede (131CESK) – “the Venerable Bede”; a “Doctor of the Church”; pedagogue, biblical exegete, hagiographer, and historian, the most influential scholar from Anglo-Saxon England
  • John Damascene – Greek theologian; a “Doctor of the Church”; defender of images in the Iconoclastic Controversy; expounded the doctrine of the perichoresis (circumincession) of the Persons of the Trinity
  • Alcuin – Abbot of St. Martin’s (Tours); a major contributor to the Carolingian Renaissance; supervised the production of several complete editions of the Bible; responsible for full acceptance of the Vulgate in the West

Ninth Century

  • Haymo (of Halberstadt) – German Benedictine monk who became bishop of Halberstadt; prolific writer
  • Photius (of Constantinople) – Patriarch of Constantinople; a scholar of wide interests and encyclopedic knowledge; his most important work, Bibliotheca, is a description of several hundred books (many now lost), with analyses and extracts; also wrote a Lexicon
  • Rabanus Maurus – Abbot of Fulda in Hess Nassau; later Archbishop of Mainz; wrote commentaries on nearly every Book of the Bible
  • Remigius (of Auxerre) – monk, scholar, and teacher
  • Paschasius Radbertus – Carolingian theologian; wrote commentaries on Lamentations and Matthew, as well as the first doctrinal monograph on the Eucharist, he maintained the real Presence of Christ

Eleventh Century

  • Theophylact – Byzantine exegete; his principal work, a series of commentaries on several OT books and on the whole of the NT except Revelation, is marked by lucidity of thought and expression and closely follows the scriptural text
  • Anselm – Archbishop of Canterbury; a “Doctor of the Church”; highly regarded teacher and spiritual director; famous ontological argument for the existence of God as “that than which nothing greater can be thought”
  • Petrus Alphonsus – Jewish Spanish writer and astronomer, a convert to Christianity; one of the most important figures in anti-Judaic polemics
  • Laufranc (prob. Lanfranc) – Archbishop of Canterbury; commented on the Psalms and Pauline Epistles; his biblical commentary passed into the Glossa Ordinaria

Mark 1:40-45

1:40–45

40. And there came a leper to him, beseeching him, and kneeling down to him, and saying unto him, If thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.

41. And Jesus, moved with compassion, put forth his hand, and touched him, and saith unto him, I will; be thou clean.

42. And as soon as he had spoken, immediately the leprosy departed from him, and he was cleansed.

43. And he straitly charged him, and forthwith sent him away;

44. And saith unto him, See thou say nothing to any man: but go thy way, shew thyself to the Priest, and offer for thy cleansing those things which Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them.

45. But he went out, and began to publish it much, and to blaze abroad the matter, insomuch that Jesus could no more openly enter into the city, but was without in desert places: and they came to him from every quarter.

BEDE. (in Marc. i. 7) After that the serpent-tongue of the devils was shut up, and the woman, who was first seduced, cured of a fever, in the third place, the man, who listened to the evil counsels of the woman, is cleansed from his leprosy, that the order of restoration in the Lord might be the same as was the order of the fall in our first parents; whence it goes on: And there came a leper to him, beseeching him.

AUGUSTINE. (de Con. Evan. ii. 19) Mark puts together circumstances, from which one may infer that he is the same as that one whom Matthew (Matt. 8:2) relates to have been cleansed, when the Lord came down from the mount, after the sermon.

BEDE. (in Marc. i. 9) And because the Lord said that He came not to destroy the Law but to fulfill, (Matt. 5:17) he who was excluded by the Law, inferring that he was cleansed by the power of the Lord, shewed that that grace, which could wash away the stain of the leper, was not from the Law, but over the Law. And truly, as in the Lord authoritative power, so in him the constancy of faith is shewn; for there follows, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. He falls on his face, which is at once a gesture of lowliness and of shame, to shew that every man should blush for the stains of his life. But his shame did not stifle confession; he shewed his wound, and begged for medicine, and the confession is full of devotion and of faith, for he refers the power to the will of the Lord.

THEOPHYLACT. For he said not, If thou wilt, pray unto God, but, If thou wilt, as thinking Him very God.

BEDE. (ubi sup.) Moreover, he doubted of the will of the Lord, not as disbelieving His compassion, but, as conscious of his own filth, he did not presume. It goes on; But Jesus, moved with compassion, put forth his hand, and touched him, and saith unto him, I will, be thou clean. It is not, as many of the Latins think, to be taken to mean and read, I wish to cleanse thee, but that Christ should say separately, I will, and then command, be thou clean.

CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. 25. in Matt) Further, the reason why He touches the leper, and did not confer health upon him by word alone, was, that it is said by Moses in the Law, that he who touches a leper, shall be unclean till the evening; that is, that he might shew, that this uncleanness is a natural one, that the Law was not laid down for Him, but on account of mere men. Furthermore, He shews that He Himself is the Lord of the Law; and the reason why He touched the leper, though the touch was not necessary to the working of the cure, was to shew that He gives health, not as a servant, but as the Lord.

BEDE. (ubi sup.) Another reason why He touched him, was to prove that He could not be defiled, who freed others from pollution. At the same time it is remarkable, that He healed in the way in which He had been begged to heal. If thou will, says the leper, thou canst make me clean. I will, He answered, behold, thou hast My will, be clean; now thou hast at once the effect of My compassion.

CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. 25. in Matt) Moreover, by this, not only did He not take away the opinion of Him entertained by the leper, but He confirmed it; for He puts to flight the disease by a word, and what the leper had said in word, He filled up in deed; wherefore there follows, And when he had spoken, immediately, &c.

BEDE. (ubi sup.) For there is no interval between the work of God and the command, because the work is in the command, for He commanded, and they were created. (Ps. 148:5) There follows: And he straitly charged him, and forthwith, &c. See thou tell no man.

CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. 25) As if He said, It is not yet time that My works should be preached, I require not thy preaching. By which He teaches us not to seek worldly honour as a reward for our works. It goes on: But go thy way, shew thyself to the chief of the priests. Our Saviour sent him to the priest for the trial of his cure, and that he might not be cast out of the temple, but still be numbered with the people in prayer. He sends him also, that he might fulfil all the parts of the Law, in order to stop the evil-speaking tongue of the Jews. He Himself indeed completed the work, leaving them to try it.

BEDE. (ubi sup.) This He did in order that the priest might understand that the leper was not healed by the Law, but by the grace of God above the Law. There follows: And offer for thy cleansing what. Moses, &c.

THEOPHYLACT. He ordered him to offer the gift which they who were healed were accustomed to offer, as if for a testimony, that He was not against the Law, but rather confirmed the Law, inasmuch as He Himself worked out the precepts of the Law.

BEDE. (ubi sup.) If any one wonders, how the Lord seems to approve of the Jewish sacrifice, which the Church rejects, let him remember, that He had not yet offered His own holocaust in His passion. And it was not right that significative sacrifices should be taken away, before that which they signified was confirmed by the witness of the Apostles in their preaching, and by the faith of the believing people.

THEOPHYLACT. But the leper, although the Lord forbade him, disclosed the benefit, wherefore it goes on: But he having gone out, began to publish and to blaze abroad the tale; for the person benefited ought to be grateful, and to return thanks, even though his benefactor requires it not.

BEDE. (ubi sup. v. Greg. Moral. 19:22) Now it may well be asked, why our Lord ordered His action to be concealed, and yet it could not be kept hid for an hour? But it is to be observed, that the reason why, in doing a miracle, He ordered it to be kept secret, and yet for all that it was noised abroad, was, that His elect, following the example of His teaching, should wish indeed that in the great things which they do, they should remain concealed, but should nevertheless unwillingly be brought to light for the good of others. Not then that He wished any thing to be done, which He was not able to bring about, but, by the authority of His teaching, He gave an example of what His members ought to wish for, and of what should happen to them even against their will.

BEDE. Further, this perfect cure of one man brought large multitudes to the Lord; wherefore it is added, So that he could not any more openly enter into the city, but could only be without in desert places.

CHRYSOSTOM. (non occ.) For the leper every where proclaimed his wonderful cure, so that all ran to see and to believe on the Healer; thus the Lord could not preach the Gospel, but walked in desert places; wherefore there follows, And they came together to him from all places.

PSEUDO-JEROME. Mystically, our leprosy is the sin of the first man, which began from the head, when he desired the kingdoms of the world. For covetousness is the root of all evil; wherefore Gehazi, engaged in an avaritious pursuit, is covered with leprosy.

BEDE. (ubi sup.) But when the hand of the Saviour, that is, the Incarnate Word of God, is stretched out, and touches human nature, it is cleansed from the various parts of the old error.

PSEUDO-JEROME. This leprosy is cleansed on offering an oblation to the true Priest after the order of Melchisedec; for He tells us, Give alms of such things as ye have, and, behold, all things are clean unto you. (Luke 11:41) But in that Jesus could not openly enter into the city, it is meant to be conveyed, that Jesus is not manifested to those, who are enslaved to the love of praise in the broad highway, and to their own wills, but to those who with Peter go into the desert, which the Lord chose for prayer, and for refreshing His people; that is, those who quit the pleasures of the world, and all that they possess, that they may say, The Lord is my portion. But the glory of the Lord is manifested to those, who meet together on all sides, that is, through smooth ways and steep, whom nothing can separate from the love of Christ. (Rom. 8:35)

BEDE. (in Marc. i. 10) Even after working a miracle in that city, the Lord retires into the desert, to shew that He loves best a quiet life, and one far removed from the cares of the world, and that it is on account of this desire, He applied Himself to the healing of the body.

SOURCE: eCatholic 2000Commentary in public domain.
Introductory video to this Sunday by Larry Broding at Word-Sunday.com.
Directions: On this page you will find questions on the Sunday Readings that can be used in RCIA or Faith Sharing groups. Clicking on the PDF icons at bottom right will give participants additional commentary and resources.

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Word Sunday

by Larry Broding

Responding to the Outcast

Continue Reading

©1999-2021 Larry Broding at Word-Sunday.com. Material may be copied for personal use or for use in any non-profit ministry. Materials may not be sold or used for personal financial gain.

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Small Group Questions

by Fr. Eamon Tobin

1. Share with the group or person next to you what spoke to you most in the Gospel. With this first question, try to refrain from commenting on what others said. Just share what spoke to you and then move on to the next person.

2. I assume all of us have seen the connection between leprosy and Covid-19, which are both very contagious diseases. People are fearful of them. These diseasesforce people to isolate from the community. For you, what has been the worst part of this Covid-19 pandemic? What helped you or continues to help you during this distressing time?

3. Who are the marginalized and ‘untouchables’ in our society? What can help us deal with these brothers and sisters as Jesus would?

4. Who might be people who may feel unwanted in our parish today? Why? What can be done to overcome this barrier?

5. Name one thing today’s Gospel says to us that we disciples of Jesus need to heed and act on

JOURNALING Having listened to God’s Word and listened to others’ reflections on it, take a quiet moment to reflect on what you are hearing God say to you. Your response will be what you bring to Eucharist on Sunday, asking Jesus to help you respond as he asks of you. When ready, jot down your reflections.

PRAYING WITH THE WORD Facilitator: Let us now pause to see how something(s) said in the reading might lead us into shared prayer. Suggestion: Jesus, despite my many faults and failings, you are always ready to welcome me. May I show the same hospitality to those I may tend to exclude.

RESPONDING TO GOD’S WORD Share with the person next to you one way you can act on this week’s readings. Suggestions: Think of someone who feels isolated or somewhat excluded. See what you can do to heal that person’s sense of isolation.

©2020 Fr. Eamon Tobin. All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.

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Discussion Questions

by Fr. Clement Thibodeau

1. Who are the “lepers”of our society today? Who are people we would not want to be seen with? People who speak with a “foreign”accent? Those who walk with leg and arm supports in the supermarket? Those who use an EBT card at the checkout counter? The “other racial”boyfriend your daughter brings home from college?

2. Tell the story of how liberating you found it to be for yourself when you were able to overcome the prejudices you grew up with in your life. Recount the freedom you found when you accepted people the way God has accepted them. Tell what bondage you found when you harbored prejudices of any kind.

3. Do you dare to come to Jesus and to expose to him the “unclean”parts of your life that need to be forgiven by him? Do you even acknowledge that you do have some unclean parts of your soul? Do you think he will be down on you and not acknowledge you as part of his family? Have you asked for forgiveness recently?

© 2017 Portland Diocese / Father Clement D. Thibodeau. Used with permission.

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Bible Study Questions

by Vince Contreras

1. Why is the leper unsure of Jesus’ desire to help (seeLeviticus 13)? What is significant about Jesus touching the leper prior to healing him? Was it always necessary for Jesus to touch someone to effect a cure (see Matthew 8:5-13; Mark 3:1-5; John 4:43-54)?

2. Notice that Jesus’ disciples are not mentioned in this scene? Where do you think they are?

3. Why would Jesus say “See that you tell no one anything” (see verse 45)?

4. The leper came to Jesus miserable and humble. Do you think we must admit sin and have a firm purpose of amendment tobe forgiven? Why or why not?

5. Who might the leper in this story represent? What might the disease of leprosy represent?

6. Who is considered “unclean” in our society? Do you reach out and touch them? How?

7. Where do you need Jesus’ special touch this week? How can you touch others?

© 2014 Sunday Scripture Study for Catholics by Vince Contreras. Used with permission.
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