Mumbai Catholic Charismatic Renewal (CCR) | Daily scripture reflection 14th February 2021

Daily scripture reflection 14th February 2021

14th February, 2021
Initiative of the Ministry of the Word group Lev.13:1-2,45-46; 1Cor.10:31-11:1; Mk.1:40-45
14th Feb. 2021
6th Sunday in Ordinary time
Lev.13:1-2,45-46; 1Cor.10:31-11:1; Mk.1:40-45

We continue with the theme of restoration.  In the past week we saw how sin alienated man from God and from God’s creation.  As sin continues to grow, alienation becomes a part of man’s condition, affecting him personally, socially and spiritually. Restoration involves the breaking of alienation and replacing it with wholeness.  

In the Gospel we have Jesus restoring a leper.  Lepers were among the most piteous of people in ancient times.  Plagued by a contagious, incurable, and therefore greatly feared disease, lepers were ostracized and isolated from community, thus adding to the suffering caused by the appalling physical disintegration of body & limbs.

Along with social ostracism, came religious ostracism. Since good health & long life were considered to be a blessing for righteous living, sickness automatically got linked with sin.  And so a leper was spiritually isolated as well; his sickness considered to be a punishment for sin – either of self or generational.

The First Reading from Leviticus (book of Jewish Law) gives the primitive description of leprosy – a very crude and arbitrary diagnosis, but such was the fear of the disease.  Judgement was severe for those infected with leprosy (real or feared) – he must wear his clothing torn and his hair disordered; he must shield his upper lip and cry “unclean, unclean”.  As long as the disease lasts, he must be unclean and must live outside the camp – in short an indefinite exile from society.

The scene in today’s Gospel occurs during a longer passage which describes a Sabbath day in the public life of Jesus.  Jesus goes to the synagogue, spends the day healing the sick and driving out evil spirits.  And then this leper approaches Jesus – desperate and knowing Jesus to be his last resort.

There is a marvelous faith in his heart-rending appeal “If you want to, you can cure me”.  It expresses the faith of the man in the power of Jesus.  He had possibly already seen/heard it during the day, and now pleads for it for himself.  Jesus’ response is amazing!  Filled with deep compassion at the man’s plight, he does something very significant – he touches the leper, something that the leper must have not experienced since his earliest diagnosis of leprosy.

By touching the leper, Jesus has rendered himself ritually unclean.  But it is an act of solidarity.  “I do want it” says Jesus to the man, “Be healed”; and instantly the man is healed – made whole!  Jesus then sends him to have his healing endorsed by the priest (as mandated by the Levitical laws) so as to get him re-integrated into society and normal life.

The man on his part, goes away, but openly proclaims the story of his restoration to all who are ready to hear, so that “Jesus could no longer go openly into any town but had to stay outside in places where nobody lived.”  Even so, we are told people sought him and would come to him.  Such is the power of his testimony.

Jesus’ healing work cannot be understood apart from his teaching about how one must lead a whole life.  Jesus never wished to be seen as a wonderworker; his miracles were an affirmation of his authority as Son of God; a part of his mission to restore wholeness to the world.  

As Christians we often obsess with personal spiritual wholeness, we forget however, that wholeness is a dynamic relationship with self, others, creation and most certainly with God.  It is this that Jesus demonstrates by touching the leper; and he calls us to do the same.    Like Jesus we must reach out - to touch the hopeless, to repair the broken hearted, to re-integrate the alienated, and to love the unloved.  Only then can we claim to be true disciples of Christ.  As St. Paul says to the Corinthians, “be imitators of me, as I am of Christ”.

Today, as the world celebrates Valentine’s Day, let us remember that true love is more than roses and kisses – true love is sacrifice; true love is Christ on the Cross.