HOMILY/REFLECTION FOR THE 6TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME, YEAR, B.
THEME: THE PLIGHT OF THE LEPER AS MARGINALIZED OF THE BIBLICAL ERA
BY: Rev. Sylvanus Amaobi.
(1st Reading, Lev. 13:1-2,44-46; 2nd Reading, 1 Cor. 10:31-11:1; Gospel, Mk. 1:40-45)
Dear brothers and sisters, “This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it” (Psalm 118:24).
Leprosy was a dreaded disease in ancient and biblical Israel. Those suffering from leprosy were considered unclean and were made to say that they were unclean when passing by to forewarn others not to come closer to them. They were treated in a demeaning and dehumanizing way. As stated in the reading, “the leper shall keep his garments rent and his head bare, and shall muffle his beard; he shall cry out, unclean, unclean.” Indeed, they were treated as outcasts and ostracized from the community. The consequences of leprosy were so dire that only the local priest could determine whether someone was infected or not. That’s why, even after Jesus cures someone of the disease, He still must send the person to the priests to receive a clean bill of health.
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Such was the condition of the leper who approached Jesus in the Gospel reading of today for healing. We can appreciate what he was going through and the heavy burden he was shouldering. Coming to Jesus Christ, he knelt down and begged him, “If you wish, you can make me clean.” Did he realize that Jesus was the Messiah? At this time, Jesus’ Messiahship was still a secret and not known by people. He must have heard of Jesus Christ’s exploits and different healing episodes. Whatever his motivation or reason was, it does not really matter. The good news is he was rewarded. He found favor with Jesus. Jesus Christ was moved with pity for him, stretched out his hand, touched him, and made him clean. Jesus Christ lifted the heavy burden of leprosy off him and asked him to go show himself to the priest, a ritual to integrate him into the community.
WE SHOULD REACH OUT TO THE MARGINALIZED
What Jesus did to the leper is significant in various ways. His action shows that the messianic era is with us. In biblical times, it was believed that only God could heal or cleanse one of leprosy (2 Kg 5:7). Jesus Christ is Emmanuel, the Messiah who is God with us. He is capable of cleansing the leper and, indeed, every disease because he has authority over all sicknesses and diseases. Jesus teaches us, too, to reach out to the marginalized or those suffering from ostracization of any sort. In the time of Jesus Christ, it was the leper. In our time, it is the poor, the homeless, the needy, the sick, the strangers, the refugees, and the minorities. They suffer heavy burdens of rejection and indifference. Some of them are given inhuman and demeaning treatments like the lepers of Jesus Christ’s era. Like Jesus Christ, we should reach out to them and “make them clean” by welcoming and helping them out in their various situations.
Let us endeavor to be imitators of Jesus Christ and Paul, as St. Paul advised us in the second reading. He never discriminated against anyone, whether Jews or Gentiles. We should not discriminate against anyone on the basis or grounds of race, religion, physical ailments or conditions, disabilities, or sicknesses. That is the preeminent teaching of Jesus Christ in today’s gospel.
Always remember that Jesus loves you!
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