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Sunday, February 12, 2006
Gospel: February 12, 2006

February 12, 2006
Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

I found great comfort in Mass today as I listened to today’s Gospel reading:
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.” The leprosy left him immediately, and he was made clean. Then, warning the him sternly, he dismissed him at once. He said to him, “See that you tell no one anything, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer for your cleansing what Moses prescribed; that will be proof for them.”The man went away and began to publicize the whole matter. He spread the report abroad so that it was impossible for Jesus to enter a town openly. He remained outside in deserted places, and people kept coming to him from everywhere. Mk 1:40-45

My priest today talked about this personal encounter with Jesus. This leper was healed by his faith. As the Book of Leviticus describes, the Law of the Lord in the Old Testament declared lepers to be banished to the outmost regions of the city. This wasn’t to shame the diseased person, but the people had to do this in order to stop the spread of leprosy.

But, Jesus wasn’t afraid to touch the man. For Jesus is God, and God conquers sin, satan, death, and suffering. And while Jesus could have merely said the very word for the man to be healed, instead Our Lord touched him. Such a simple touch – yet such an act of love. The King of Glory touched a man that the whole community shunned. As St. Francis of Assisi described, he was fearful of lepers. Leprosy was a decease where the skin and bone slowly deteriorated; this was an agonizing and repulsive death. Yet, St. Francis of Assisi one day hurriedly passed a leper and suddenly realized his lack of love and the horror of that sin. So he turned around, poured his money into the lepers hand, and he kissed a leper. This personal act of love is seen in the Gospel reading.

And that is why the Sacraments are such a personal encounter. For in the Sacraments we meet Jesus Christ not a priest but Our True Lord. The priest is simply in persona Christi meaning the priest is taking the place of Christ. The words of Consecration, of absolution in Confession, and of Baptism are the words of Christ speaking through his servant. And this is the way it is. Christ doesn’t have to speak through a priest, but he does. As we see in the Gospel reading, Jesus Christ commands the leper to seek out a priest because the Law of the Lord dictated that all lepers must be declared clean to enter the town again.

The next time we receive Our Lord or seek His forgiveness in Confession, let us remember that it is truly Christ forgiving us. For that is why He died – to ransom us and make us His children. God is love!

Image Source: Believed to be in the Public Domain


del_button February 12, 2006 at 7:25 PM
Darren Norton said...

I, too liked today's readings. My pastor at Saturday vigil Mass made some interesting comments. The first reading outlines the law of how lepers were to stay on the outskirts of society, for the protection of others. In the Gospel, both the leper and Jesus had the courage to so something "outside the box". The leper wasn't supposed to be anywhere near non-lepers. Not only was he in the vicinity of Jesus - HE TOUCHED HIM! A big no no. Jesus, likewise had the courage to TOUCH HIM BACK, healing him. Ironically, Jesus found himself in the same "position" as the lepers after he healed this man. After asking the leper to keep this to himself (which he didn't) Jesus had to go to the outskirts of society because no one would leave him alone. Interesting, isn't it?

del_button February 12, 2006 at 8:58 PM
Moneybags said...

I hadn't thought of those connections, Darren. Thanks for sharing them.

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