1.Lev 13:1ff
2. 1Cor10:31-11:1
Mk 1:40-45

THEME OF THE READINGS “ Jesus has come to save even the leper”
As we meditate on the readings of 6th Sunday of the Year B ordinary time, we are invited to reflect and think why our mother church has decided to bring the theme leper in reflections and discussion in two readings out of three readings. In this regard the church wants to draw our attention from focusing on physical ailment, that is leprosy to  something deeper than physical disease. This is echoed in the responsorial psalm when the psalmist says “celebrating the joy of those who confess their sins before God, and experience his forgiveness.” What can we compare leprosy in our today’s world with? There are many things more especially vices or sins that can be compared with leprosy. Sin as one of the human vices can be equated with leprosy of the soul.
The ancient world experienced difficulties in combating leprosy as the cure of the disease was very rare. The only way the ancient world used to combat physical leprosy was to isolate the lepers, making them to live far from the rest in order to avoid contamination and defilement as those who suffered from leprosy were conceived as the ones sinned against God. Those being separated from the community because of leprosy they were taught to alarm anybody who could approach them unknowingly by crying aloud “unclean, unclean” as warning to alarm anybody who could come into contact with them unknowingly. If anyone could come into contact with the leper he/she had to undergo some Jewish ritual purification before the high priest in order to be united with the rest members of the society.
In the Church of Jesus Christ, leper can be made parallel with any one who commits sin. The person who commits sin feels being separated from both God and the church. From the leper we learn a lesson of being humble before God. “ If you want to, You can cure me”( Mk 1:40). As we see from the reading, the leper’s appeal was met by Jesus’ compassion who according to St.Mark’s gospel was moved with pity. Jesus in serving those suffering from leprosy seems to risk his life also because by touching them he makes himself unclean according to the law. Jesus being compassionate at the expense of those undergoing suffering makes him known everywhere. In the past after a person had felt being clean was to go and made it public to be accepted and be united to the rest of the community members through the rite of confession, in our own time this has become the sacrament of confession. When the sacrament of confession is administered a person sinned against God becomes reconciled with Him.
The leper also teaches each one of us to develop an attitude of thanking God whatever He grants each one of us according to his/ her needs. As we have seen from the gospel reading we see that the leper far from thanking Jesus he goes on shouting and inviting people manifesting his gratitude to all what Jesus did to him, though after Jesus’ healing he tells the leper not to let anyone know this, yet the leper in expressing his gratitude is making it to be known to everybody. Jesus’ intention to make his action of healing the leper not to be known was messianic secret as his hour was not yet, this could bring a confusion among many because it was the expectation of the majority about the messiah to come. If Jesus wanted it not to be known because the followers of Jesus who were recording event’s of Jesus life, would end it by one act of healing the leper and living out important events in Jesus life like passion, death, resurrection and ascension, it is under this background Jesus is telling the healed leper not to tell anybody concerning what had been done to him by Jesus.
Jesus teaches us an important lesson from the readings about crossing social and religious boundaries in order to attend and cure the leper. As the man who was suffering from leprosy break the Old Testament law and approached Jesus, the leper conceived as an outcast breaks social norms and other prohibitions in order to approach Jesus. Likewise, in our daily life there a lot of prohibitions, customs, norms and other taboos that hinders us from following Jesus closely. In this gospel episode, Jesus shows us God’s attitude to human disability. God wishes to reach us in whatever predicament we are and restores to fullness of life.
The leper being healed reminds us the role Jesus is teaching to us all, we see Jesus’ intervention in the life of the leper whose health did not allow him to be with the community, Jesus here brings the communion between the man who had been separated by the community to be re united with the community. Jesus by example is showing how to remove the obstacles and barriers that set people apart. In this context, what barriers do we have in our families, institutions, religious communities? These are many, we have the barrier of selfishness, tribalism, colour discrimination, ideological differences etc, all these have to be fought as they are the ones that separates us. As Christians with the help of prayer and the Holy Spirit we need to put aside all these barriers in order to be united with Jesus our saviour.
Thus both Jesus and the leper have got something to say to us about what can be done to bring restoration to people who have been separated from us. We can be all tempted to retreat into our past experience with others, more especially those who have hated us much or those who had some differences with us. Like the leper we can be sometimes tempted to retreat back by conventions of the society and found ourselves in wrong directions. Thus today Jesus being an example is extending his hands to embrace whoever is ready to accept him. There people who seem to be disturbance and troubles in our life because of their situation we cannot attend, all because their state of being beggars every moment we get and become tired of such people, these are lepers of our days, they are the ones Jesus is speaking through to us, we are invited to pay attention to everybody who asks for help, our compassionate presence will draw many people to Christ.
Pope John Paul II declared February 11, feast of our Lady of Lourdes, as the World day of the sick. Leprosy among them thanks be to God has become a curable disease. We are all invited to root out this bad mentality of seeing some disease more especially the incurable diseases as the divine punishment and as the result to stigmatize those who suffer from such diseases as the ones being punished by God due to their sins. We have heard many times, from Tele- evangelists who teach that AIDS is divine punishment for sin. Jesus teaches us today to abandon completely such teachings and beliefs, instead he teaches us to reach out and be in solidarity to such stigmatized people by both families and communities.

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Chapisha Maoni