Sunday 14th February
Follow the example of Christ
  • Leviticus 13: 1-2, 44-46
  • Ps 32: 1-2,5,11
  • 1 Cor 10: 31-11:1
  • Mark 1: 40-45

Today’s Liturgy might sound familiar to most of us. We have heard how much of a dreaded disease Leprosy was in the past, not just in the time of Old Testament or in the time of Lord Jesus’ earthly life but also till as recently as the1940s, when effective treatments were discovered. Today we know how the disease is spread and that prolonged contact is needed for someone to be infected with Leprosy, but as in the time of the Old Testament, even during the lifetime of Lord Jesus that was not the case. People with Leprosy or any similar skin disease for that matter were totally shunned by society and were deprived of any human contact, for the fear of infecting others. It is in that context we need to dive into the Liturgy of today.

The First Reading gives the classical social restrictions related to Leprosy and similar skin diseases, namely self-isolation. This term would have been much less significant if we heard it before 2020, simply because it was something we did not have to go through much, unless we had an infectious disease like chickenpox or like-wise. Yet to us who lived through last year, this term brings in more living memories of loneliness and frustration. Basically, a leper had to submit to indefinite self- isolation except for the extremely rare possibility of a spontaneous or supernatural cure. And we know that all conditions were in place to ensure strict adherence to the laws of social distancing and self-isolation, being monitored by the religious leaders of the time. We who are living in the COVID 19 pandemic can relate to this system very well, and also can appreciate the dis-gust, reaction and rejection of the affected ones by society at large; we only need to have someone cough, sneeze or blow their nose in public nowadays to trigger the same behaviour in those around!

Why was our Lord Jesus different from the social norm? We all know He was fully human, like us or any of the others who lived during that time. He also had learnt Moses’ Law related to Leprosy and other skin diseases. If so, why did the Lord respond to the leper in a very different manner? The answer is that the Lord was following the thinking pattern, speech and behaviour of another person- His Heavenly Father. He was so intimately connected to the Father, that He only did what He saw the Father doing, said only what the Father wanted Him to say and responded only as the Father’s Heart was moved. The result was a miracle, a supernatural healing. The love and the power of the author of life flowed through Lord Jesus to the leper. Heaven invaded the earth when one person was in total communion with the Father, changing the norms of nature.

How about the present time we live in? Can the same thing happen today? The correct answer is ‘yes’. Yet the sad truth is we do not witness the same work of God in and through each of us. We too have received the same divine sonship and daughterhood through our Baptism, being made an intricate part of the Holy Trinity and grafted to the life of Christ. The same Holy Spirit who dwelt inside our Lord Jesus of Nazareth is dwelling within us. Yet, often the facts of this world remain alive in our minds and hearts, more than the truths of God’s word and His promises. Our intellect and physical senses dictate to us the truth as perceived by our body and soul, undermining what our spirit, connected to the Holy Spirit, is seeing, hearing and understanding. Gradually our spirit undergoes ‘disuse atrophy’, meaning death due to not being used at all! We are invited today to get alone with our own selves for a little while and find out where our own spirit is currently. Is our spirit leading our life, or has it been pushed back to the least priority status?

This act of our Lord Jesus was not just about healing of a leper but also those who witnessed this encounter had a glimpse into the Father’s Heart. The leper simply implored the Lord to speak a word of healing, for he believed that His word would heal him. Yet what was the Lord’s response? Affirming His desire and eagerness to heal the helpless person, The Lord went beyond His call of duty because He saw the Father embracing the disfigured, scarred and weakened body of the leper, who himself was a beloved child of the Father. This certainly does not mean that we ignore or break the civil law. St Paul clarifies beautifully in the Second Reading that the one sentiment we as God’s children ought to be led by is love, and not reaction, arrogance or selfish ulterior motives. May the Spirit of peace, love and freedom fill our hearts today in a special way to partner with the Father and the Son, to bring in abundant joy to those around us, suffering with various forms of isolation and rejection.

Prayer: Abba Father, may we follow the example of Your Son in our day to day life and bring heaven down to the earth. Amen.

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