Leviticus 13:1-2, 44-46; Mark 1:40-45
Dear friends! I had a wonderful time with my mom and family members, the wedding of my nephew went very well. I had the opportunity to meet some of my brother priests and friends. After spending 30 days in a warm weather between 85* – 90* F, now I am back to freezing temperature bellow 15*F. Thank you for all your prayers. All my family members send their prayers to you as well.
Based on the Gospel I wish to talk about on two themes: breaking the barriers and joyfully proclaiming the good news of Jesus.
Charity begins at home. Our first responsibility is to care for those who are closest to us: our family and our friends. This is a sound policy, and most of us follow it. So whenever someone appears as a threat, as a danger, we instinctively push that person away. We do this in order to protect those that we love, those who are closest to us. This is certainly the intent of today’s first reading from the book of Leviticus, because in this reading is found legislation concerning leprosy. Ancient Israel understood that leprosy was contagious. Therefore, Israel put in place this directive, decreeing that the person who was infected with leprosy should be separated from the community. Such people were to live outside the camp, and they were to call out “unclean, unclean” as a warning to others to stay away lest they also become infected. Think of how we treated the Ebola patients!
In today’s gospel Jesus instead of keeping himself away from the leper, “Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand, touched him, and said to him, “I do will it. Be made clean.”
There are so many barriers, so much of divisions in the world around us: social, economic, political barriers, and divisions in the name of Language, religion, caste, and color. Unfortunately these kinds of divisions are found even among the Catholics, priests and religious communities and within the catholic families. Now to live in a world without divisions, without barriers, is probably a constant struggle for us at the present time. But it is clearly God’s intention for the world. This is why the ministry of Jesus was always concerned with reconciliation, with bringing people together. This is why Jesus in today’s gospel heals the leper, not simply to remove the disease but to remove the barrier, so that the leper might again join the community.
Jesus wants us to tear down the walls that separate us from others and build bridges of loving relationship. Jesus calls every one of us to demolish the walls that separate us from each other and to welcome the outcasts and the untouchables of society. These include homosexuals, AIDS victims, alcoholics, drug addicts and marginalized groups such as the divorced, the unmarried, single mothers, migrant workers and the mentally ill. God’s loving hand must reach out to them through us. Jesus wants us to touch their lives.
Let us re-examine today the barriers we have created and approach God with a heart that is ready to welcome the outcasts in our society. Remember the old African-American children’s song reminding us that there is room for everyone in God’s Kingdom: “All God’s creatures got a place in the choir, some sing low and some sing higher. Some sing out loud on a telephone wire and some just clap their hands or paws or anything they’ve got.”
We have to learn a lesson from the leper himself. Jesus said to the leper, “See that you tell no one anything”. Yet this man immediately goes out and publicizes everything that had happened, speaking to everyone. How do we explain that this man ignored Jesus’ desire to keep things quiet? The simplest explanation is that there are some secrets that cannot be kept. There are some blessings too wonderful to hold in. In other words, this story of the leper is a story of the power of joy.
So the leper in today’s gospel is a model for us. All too often, our lives lack the power of joy. We know our faith. We can recite the creed. We come to mass. We believe in God’s existence. Yet the question we can ask ourselves today: how many people can see in us the joy of God’s presence or the enthusiasm of belonging to Christ? Do people see in our lives the energy of the good news, or do we appear much like everyone else, including those who do not believe in God at all.