“And a leper came to him (Jesus) beseeching him, and kneeling said to him, ‘If you will, you can make me clean.’ Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand and touched him, and said to him, ‘I will; be clean.’” Mark 1:40-41
Today, we are presented with another healing episode of Jesus; the cleansing of the Leper. Looking at today’s first reading, one may ask, why did God have to give such stringent laws regarding leprosy? Why would the leper have to stay away from the people? The answer is simply because the disease of leprosy is highly contagious just like sin.
What I do or refuse to do even in secret affects others. As social creatures, sin easily spreads like oil spreads amongst one’s fingers. Hence, care must be taken that we put sin away and always show good example to others. Sin is leprosy; it must be ostracised lest it spreads and destroys the entire community.
This is the point St. Paul emphasizes in today’s second reading. I may not see anything wrong with eating meat sacrificed to idols but if doing so will scandalize neophytes in the faith, why should I do such? In our actions, we should not be concerned about seeking our personal advantage but the salvation of all.
Now, let’s examine our conscience: Can I really say I am free from the leprosy of sin? How many people have I scandalized and even pulled away from the faith as a result of my sinfulness? Am I not ashamed of myself? If so, let’s follow the leper’s movement and see what he teaches us.
1. THE LEPER DETESTED HIS CONDITION. First, the leper was not living in denial, he fully accepted his situation but he hated it and kept looking for breakthrough. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves but this should never make us proud or boastful of our sins. No matter the degree of your present sinful condition, believe that you can rise above it. Develop a strong hatred for sin.
2. THE LEPER LEFT HIS COLONY. Notice that it was the leper who came to meet Jesus. The leper was not in the midst of other lepers, he was not in his comfort zone when he found Jesus. In his attempt to meet Jesus, he must have faced ridicule, shame and insults from people but he did not mind. Do you really seek to do away with sin in your life? Then change your friends, stop following those who cheer you up and encourage you, leave your comfort zone, step out of any environment that breeds sin. Remove yourself from the leper’s colony, aim only for Jesus.
3. THE LEPER CAUGHT THE ATTENTION OF JESUS. There were thousands of people pressing around Jesus but there was something this leper did; He knelt down before Jesus, and while prostrating, he expressed deep faith in Jesus’ ability to cleanse him: “If you want to, you CAN make me clean…” Jesus was immediately moved with pity. Thousands of people flock prayer houses day in day out, there are churches everywhere today but the question is: “Does my prayer life catch the attention of Jesus?” Do I have this attitude of faith as the leper?
4. THE LEPER ALLOWED HIMSELF TO BE TOUCHED. In response to his question, Jesus said: “I will, be clean.” God loves us deeply regardless of our level of righteousness and it is His Will that we should be clean but we must first allow ourselves to be touched. Do I have a stony heart? Am I determined to remain forever stuck in sin? Do I hear God’s words in one ear and allow them flow out through the other ear? The moment we so open ourselves to God and allow his word penetrate the inner depths of our hearts, we become born again Christians. Sin will no longer have dominion in us.
5. THE LEPER BECAME AN EVANGELIST AFTERWARD. Upon receiving healing, the leper could not hold his joy. He forgot Jesus told him not to tell anyone. If you have never spoken to somebody about Jesus, it means you are yet to encounter Jesus.
Silence about Jesus is dangerous, however when it comes to proclaiming our faith, timing is very important. Jesus did not want cheap publicity especially from people who received healing from him. He did not want anyone’s faith to be dependent on physical healing; Jesus did not want us to see him as a magician that could be discarded whenever the magic fails to work. This is why when the man disobeyed Jesus’ instruction, Jesus started hiding from people.
When we disobey God, he withdraws from us, we no longer feel his presence and this also affects others. Imagine the number of people who would have also received healing from Jesus if this man had simply followed the instructions!
In conclusion, sin is cancerous, it is something serious, never to be proud of, deserving of ostracizing. Leprosy was such a dreaded disease with no cure, only God could cure it. Similarly, only God can cure us of our sinfulness but we must first hate sin so much as to break off from our comfort zones to encounter Jesus
Let us Pray: Lord Jesus, I am tired of my leprosy, I hate my present condition so I come to you; if you want to, you can make me clean. Amen.
*Happy Sunday. Be happy, live positive, it is well with you. Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time. Year B. Bible Study: Leviticus 13:1-2, 44-46. 1st Corinthians 10:31-11:1 and Mark 1:40-45.*