Theme: THE LORD HEALS US OF OUR PHYSICAL AND SPIRITUAL LEPROSY
- Leviticus 13:1-2. 44-46;
- Psalm 31 (32): 1-2. 5. 11. R/ v. 7;
- 1 Corinthians 10:31-11:1
- Mark 1:40-45
Today is the 6th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B. The readings today tell us that the Lord heals us of our physical and spiritual leprosy.
The gospel today tells us that Jesus healed a leper. Leprosy in the Bible includes many forms of skin diseases.
I once visited a leper hospital and I saw patients without noses, lips, toes, fingers, and even without a foot. I was assured by the doctor that they were not contagious as they were under treatment and medication.
But after shaking their hands I did not dare to touch my face or nose or any part of my body for fear that I may be infected. When I reached home I washed my hands many times over with soap.
Today there is a cure for physical leprosy, but today there is no cure for spiritual leprosy, that is, our sins. Only Jesus Christ can heal us of our spiritual leprosy by his death, resurrection and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.
That is why after curing the leper, Jesus warned him sternly not to tell anyone about it, for fear that the people make mistake him to be a wonder-worker or a miracle-worker Messiah.
Jesus Christ is a suffering Messiah, a crucified Messiah! This “Messianic Secret” of the gospel of St. Mark will only be revealed after Jesus’ death and resurrection and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit! (NJB; CCB; Fuller) That is why the symbol of Christianity is the crucifix, the crucified Christ, not the empty cross!
The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading tells us that the leper is to be excluded from the community, especially from the worshiping community, because he is not only physically unclean, but he is also ritually unclean!
The Law of Moses cannot heal one of physical leprosy and spiritual leprosy. The Law of Moses can only exclude the leper from the community, especially the worshiping community. Only the love of Jesus Christ can heal one of physical leprosy and spiritual leprosy and include one in the community, especially the worshiping community!
The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. Leprosy is a symbol of sin! The responsorial psalm is a thanksgiving for the forgiveness of sins. (HCSB) It is a penitential psalm. Thus the response of the responsorial psalm:
“You are my refuge, O Lord; you fill me with the joy of salvation.” (Ps 31 (32): 7; SM)
The responsorial psalm has three stanzas. The first stanza (vv. 1-2) tells us that the forgiven sinner is blessed. The second stanza (v. 5) tells us that the sinner confesses his sins to God and God forgives his sins. And the third stanza (v. 11) tells us that the just and upright man is full of joy! (CSB; NJBC)
The second reading does not follow the theme of the Sunday. The second reading tells us not to cause scandal, that is, not to cause other people to fall into sin! We may be doing the right thing, we may not be doing the wrong thing, but if what we do causes scandal, we are not to do it. Whatever we do, must be done for the glory of God and for the good of others!
In the second reading today, St. Paul tells the Corinthians not to eat food and not to drink drinks offered to idols, not because it is wrong, but because it will scandalize the weak! (IBC; CCB)
In our own day, the Chinese New Year Mass may be a cause of scandal for some people. In a Catholic church in Malaysia, a red ancestral altar was erected, with red candles, big joss sticks, food offering, and with two priests bowing three times in veneration of the ancestral tablet has caused scandal to many people, including Catholics, non-Catholics, non-Christians, etc. It was a scandal of idolatry, that is, worshipping false gods! (Herald, 12.2.2012, p. 4)
Today in the Eucharist, we celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and we eat his body and drink his blood, and the Risen Lord will give us the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will heal us of our physical and spiritual leprosy. The Holy Spirit will help us heal others of their physical and spiritual leprosy. And the Holy Spirit will help us not to cause scandal to other people. A happy Sunday and a happy week to all of you!
Parish Priest of St Mary, Tawau, Sabah East Malaysia.