Breaking Open the Word
6th Sunday of Ordinary Time
February 11, 2024
How clean can I get anyway? This week’s theme throughout our readings and gospel is this – look to our Lord to make things better. Pretty simple message to sit here and type but what a beautiful way to live a life if we can just pull it off. Jesus came for exactly that reason – cleanse us of our sins and fix what is broken in us regardless of the challenge. Try it!
1 Corinthian 10:31-11:1
This week’s gospel from Mark comes from the beginning of the gospel where the gospel writer Mark gets right to the point – Jesus came to heal. In this case, it is a leper who approaches Jesus. There are only two instances in the Old Testament where a leper is cured by God, so the fact this man even approached Jesus is of significance. When we see reference to leprosy in the Bible, it is often understood to be several different types of skin disease. In some instances it certainly could have been no more than an allergic reaction that resolved itself.
In any case, leprosy made the person “unclean”, meaning they were not to live among the general population and certainly no one who was unclean could worship at the Temple. The Mosaic Law provided relief for the situation. In our first reading from Leviticus, we see that a person may be declared unclean thus setting that person aside from others. However, in chapter 14 of Leviticus a priest who sees that a skin condition has resolved should mix the blood of a bird with water and sprinkle that on the cured person seven times, thus rendering that person clean.
Jesus does not do that ritual to make the man clean, Jesus simply declares the man clean, and cures the skin condition. This reflects the authority of Jesus as the Son of God. Jesus did not need a ritual to express His authority, He is the authority. Jesus does, though, tell the man to go show himself to the priests and perform the ritual cleansing in order for the man to again be allowed to worship God with others.
When Jesus tells the man to go show himself to the priests, Jesus dismisses the man sternly telling the man to get the purification ritual completed. It was much more important for the man to again worship God rather than spread the story of his healing.
Jesus the Healer
Jesus did come as the great Healer. Jesus sees the damage of our imperfect bodies and minds as we live in an imperfect world. These individual imperfections, illnesses, and warped perception of the meaning of love come together and are reflected in a world in need of great healing. We all experience suffering in one form or another. Jesus, though, is the one who can heal our wounds – most importantly the wounds created by our sins. Jesus used the disease of the leper to show His authority. The healing of that one leper created waves of belief in Jesus. Jesus will use our sufferings as well if we allow Him to do so…and there is a great deal of healing that is needed.
A community has many different forms – a family, a neighborhood, a parish, a city, etc. None of us were intended to live on our own. We are a community. Even the hermits were not alone, they prayed for others. Jesus calls us into community to carry forth His mission – to help others love God with all they have in them and love others as they themselves want to be loved. Those are nice, pleasant words to hear…can be a little tougher to live out though.
When Jesus called His Apostles, Jesus took them away from their communities to learn His mission. They themselves, became similar to the lepers who did not live as a part of the rest of society. Jesus had a new community in mind that would take the Apostles, and us, to incredible spiritual places.
St. Paul tells us in our second reading this week what that community should look like – “…whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God. Avoid giving offense whether to the Jews or the Greeks or the church of God.”
Theme in our Life Today
Living As Healed Community In Our Life Today
Jesus came as the great Healer. In each of His miracles, what He heals is the physical well-being of the person but even more importantly He healed the hearts and souls of those individuals. As Jesus looks at each of us, I am quite certain he sees our faults, our challenges, and our troubles. The man cured of leprosy came to Jesus in desperation, many times we do that too don’t we.
Among our greatest needs for healing is the healing of relationships. Many of the people Jesus healed in the gospels were ostracized from society. When we have a damaged relationship, we end with a divided family, parish, Church, etc., and division is the greatest tool satan has in his arsenal. We can give up on those relationships – but we are actually called to healing rather than giving up.
We need never feel desperate. I know, easier said than done… God, since the time of Adam and Eve, has made a promise to take care of us. Why does God bother? Because He loves us. The leper in the gospel would have been walking around with a bell to warn others as he approached, or was yelling “Unclean! Unclean!” as he walked around. And then there is Jesus who looks beyond the disease and gets right down there with the leper to take care of him.
In our desperation, our confusing times, our times of tough decision making…there is Jesus. In our moments of joy and exultation….there is Jesus. That’s great! Knowing that, we have the confidence to look outside ourselves and carry on the mission of Christ. And that is exactly what makes for a healthy family, parish, Church, name the community…it makes it better.
There is no secret to living a life with God at the center of it. It just takes trust. Trust. Trust. Trust.
Prepare for Sunday
· What relationship do you need to heal? Examine even your smallest relationships with others….how is it going?
· In our parish library, the Fr. Ernie Library, in the Narthex you will find some great books on spirituality. Grab one on the lives of the saints and see how much they trust.
· Get to an hour at the Adoration Chapel and make a commitment to making it a weekly part of your routine.
Go smile at God today! It is a beautiful day so rejoice!!