Making it difficult for Jesus to walk into our town!
Thursday, 1st Week in ordinary time – Mk 1:40-45
The Gospel does not tell us precisely where this miracle took place. We know that Jesus is touring the neighbouring towns of Capernaum after that eventful Sabbath day. The Gospel tells us that He came to preach ‘the’ message (Verse 38). This message of Jesus is also accompanied by miracles, especially the exorcism of demons. In Mark’s Gospel the adversary is made clear right from the start; it is satan.
While Matthew’s Gospel is called the ‘teaching’ Gospel and Luke’s, the ‘feeling’ Gospel, Mark’s Gospel is known as the ‘doing’ Gospel, for Jesus is constantly working miracles. But make no mistake, while the Gospel is punctuated with several miracles, the teaching and preaching mission of Jesus is no way diminished.
Today’s Gospel has a leper at the heart of the miracle. The term leper and leprosy as we understand today could refer to several skin conditions which were all lumped together as leprosy. In all probability, this man had some skin ailment, or else he would not be allowed within the walls of the village or town.
Whatever be the case, the man felt a sense of alienation, and desires to be healed. There is deep humility in this man, for he kneels and begs for a healing. While we empathize with those who are sick (sometimes with annoying questions or even worse, annoying medical advice), we can never totally identify with their pain and suffering.
Through his suffering, the leper has not forgotten humility. There is no demand; just a humble request, “if you choose, you can make me clean.” In the face of kindness, hearts melt and the Lord’s heart was moved with pity. Earlier, when Jesus healed the possessed man in the synagogue, He used only words; when He healed Peter’s mother-in-law He used only actions. Now the Lord uses both words and actions in healing the leper. Perhaps this was the first time that anyone had touched the leper, necessitating both word and action.
Leviticus 14 has a detailed list of what is required of any one with skin ailments in order to be declared clean. Jesus is no law breaker for the sake of simply being a rebel, as some have made Him out to be. Jesus sends the man to the priest to be certified as clean and to offer for his cleansing what Moses had commanded.
Perhaps the man’s joy knew no bounds, for we are told he went and proclaimed both his healing and his healer, making it difficult for Jesus to stay in that town. So was the man disobedient to Jesus? I really can’t answer this one but I can say this, I do wish that we, the followers of Christ had the same chutzpah. Perhaps the fact that our Churches are not overflowing with faith seekers is reflective also on the followers of Christ and not merely the failings of the institution. If we all, priest and people, proclaimed Him with the same boldness, perhaps the Lord would not be ‘able to walk about our town freely”.
Fr Warner D’Souza
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