6TH SUNDAY OF ORDINARY TIME (B)
JESUS CURES THE LEPER
In the ancient times, lepers were marginalized from the society for leprosy was considered as always contagious, incurable and seen as a punishment from God. This is the reason why in the first reading of this Sunday’s Mass, lepers were obliged to make known their presence and proximity to others. A leper must keep “his garments rent and his head bare, and shall muffle his beard; he shall cry out, ‘Unclean, unclean!’” so that people could avoid them. Moreover, lepers were obliged to live apart from the rest of the population (Lev 13: 44-46).
The Gospel of today’s Mass shows us Jesus’ compassion to the sick and the outcast, represented by the humble leper. “A leper came to Jesus and KNEELING DOWN BEGGED HIM and said, ‘IF YOU WISH, you can make me clean.’ Moved with PITY, he stretched out his hand, TOUCHED HIM, and said to him, ‘I do will it. Be made clean’ (Mk 1: 40-41).” This brief Gospel passage teaches us the following profound ideas:
- When we ask Our Lord for something, we must ask it with HUMILITY —the leper KNELT down and BEGGED Our Lord—a very striking image which manifests the leper’s indigent condition, humbly asking for God’s mercy.
- In our petitions, we should give PRIMACY TO WHAT GOD WANTS and not to what we want. “If you WISH”, the leper told Our Lord, indicating his RESPECT FOR GOD’S WILL for He knows better than us.
- Utterly different from the usual reaction of the Jews of his time who had neither qualms nor scruples in eluding the leper, Jesus, “moved with PITY,…stretched out his hand, TOUCHED HIM” clearly showing us an example of COMPASSION TOWARDS THE SICK, THE OUTCAST, THE MARGINALIZED, TOUCHING THE UNTOUCHABLE!
WHAT ABOUT US? DO WE HAVE AN INDIFFERENT ATTITUDE TOWARDS THOSE WHO SUFFER: THE POOR, THE SICK, THE STREET CHILDREN, THE BEGGARS….?
In his message for Lent 2015, Pope Francis invites us to “ask the Lord: ‘Fac cor nostrum secundum cor tuum’: Make our hearts like yours (Litany of the Sacred Heart of Jesus). In this way we will receive a heart which is firm and merciful, attentive and generous, a heart which is not closed, indifferent or prey to the globalization of indifference (Pope Francis, Message for Lent 2015).”