Sunday, February 11
Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Mark 1: 40 – 45
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 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.
“I do will it. Be made clean.” These are the beautiful and most comforting words spoken by Jesus in today’s Gospel to the leper who approached Him, knelt down begging Jesus, “If you wish, you can make me clean.” Jesus could have shown no greater expression of love and mercy than to reach out His hand to touch this unclean leper. By doing this, Jesus showed His great love and compassion for the needy leper. You see, no man would have dared touch this leper, knowing he might contract this dreadful disease. Only the compassionate Jesus would perform such an act of mercy upon a helpless beggar
Ever since Biblical times, people have been fearful of leprosy. Under Jewish law, no one could approach within six feet of the leper and when approaching, the leper was required to cry out “unclean, unclean.” Jesus not only heals the disease but He also cleanses the leper. By cleansing the leper, Jesus is providing a spiritual healing, as well as a physical healing.
Where leprosy is noticeable as an exterior disease of sores on the body, how many of us in turn fully recognize our own inner sores – our sins? For we may be unclean. Maybe we are defiled through having impure thoughts, anger, bitterness, lust, greed, pride, and hurtful actions towards others.
So, what can we take away from today’s Gospel from Mark? If we go to Jesus on our knees and beg for healing, we will assuredly receive it. We believe that Jesus has the greatest healing power of all – healing us from our sins – but He does not always heal our physical ailments. However, we must have faith and trust in Him to do what is right and good for us and to stand with us in our suffering.
As we quickly approach the season of Lent, with Ash Wednesday on February 14, let us be aware of our inner sores, let us be “touched” by Jesus and receive His forgiveness and healing by participating in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Let us kneel down and say to Jesus, “If you wish, you can make me clean.” I assure you that He will reply back to you with the same compassion He showed the leper and say, “I will do it, be made clean.”
Deacon Paul Zemanek