6th sunday – Ordianry Time, Year B.

Mark 1:40-45

 40 A man with leprosy[a] came to him and begged him on his knees, “If you are willing, you can make me clean.” 41 Jesus was indignant.[b] He reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!”42 Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cleansed. 43 Jesus sent him away at once with a strong warning: 44 “See that you don’t tell this to anyone. But go, show yourself to the priest and offer the sacrifices that Moses commanded for your cleansing, as a testimony to them.” 45 Instead he went out and began to talk freely, spreading the news. As a result, Jesus could no longer enter a town openly but stayed outside in lonely places. Yet the people still came to him from everywhere.REFLECTION, By Fr Aldo, sxIn those days leper was the same as death. To cure a person with leper was equivalent to bringing a dead person back to life. The priests could declare clean a person that had been healed, but they had no power to heal. To heal a leper was a work that belonged exclusively to God. In fact the Jewish priests – based on the oracles of Isaiah 35 and 61 – had compiled a list of signs of the Kingdom of God and one of this signs was about the leper made clean. Therefore, for an Israelite, the healing of a leper was more than just an extraordinary fact, it was a sign that the Kingdom had come. Jesus knew that list of signs by heart so much so that once he said to those sent by the Baptist: “Go and tell John what you have heard and seen: the blind see, the deaf hear, the leper are cured…” (Mt 11:5)

The first part of today’s Gospel tells us about a fact. A leper, defying the law, gets close to Jesus and, kneeling, begs Jesus to make him clean. It is interesting to notice that he does not ask to be cured, but to be made clean. What hurts more is not his sickness but his condition of having to live excluded from his civil and religious society.

Jesus stretched his hand, touched him and cured him. More than a sign of benevolence and kindness toward someone in need, this touch of Jesus represents and inversion of the dominant idea people had of God. The way God would treat the lepers had nothing to do with the way of the Pharisees.

Nowadays, leprosy does not constitute a big problem in our society, but prejudice and exclusion do. Think about all those whom you are afraid of relating with and would rather keep distance from them. Like Jesus, we are challenged to reverse the way people who are victims of exclusion are usually treated, and reveal the face of God in the way we, followers of Jesus, treat and relate with them.

Why does Jesus take an attitude in relation to the Law that sounds provocative, to say the least? The verse 41 explains it well: Jesus felt compassion. It is this human sentiment that enables us to sometimes question certain norms and traditions that do not consider the wellbeing of the human person. Before someone in need, the best thing is to follow the heart.

What do you feel about the suffering, injustice, misery and humiliation experienced by people you know? Only genuine love can enable us to approach them even at cost of physical and moral risks.

Let us pray that our work of evangelization may lead people to have a stronger sense of love and solidarity toward others. This attitude is not so simple. The story ends telling that Jesus could not enter any longer in the cities and towns. There occurred and amazing exchange of setting in between Jesus and the Leper. In order to restitute the leper to the center, Jesus chose to take his place at the margins.

Well… better one to think twice before following this Jesus.

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