February 11, 2024, 6th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Episode 18 February 09, 2024 00:08:57
February 11, 2024, 6th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Sundays with Bishop Ken
February 11, 2024, 6th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Feb 09 2024 | 00:08:57

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Little Books of the Diocese of Saginaw

Show Notes

In today's Gospel, Jesus encounters the man with leprosy. Bishop Ken invites us to consider our response to those who may repel us. (Mk 1:40-45)

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Episode Transcript

A reading from the Holy Gospel according to Mark “A leper came to Jesus and kneeling down begged him and said, “If you wish, you can make me clean.” Moved with pity, Jesus stretched out his hand, touched him, and said to him, “I do will it. Be made clean.” The leprosy left the man immediately, and he was made clean. Then, warning him sternly, Jesus dismissed him at once. Jesus 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.” The Gospel of the Lord. A Gospel event like this, (among other things,) can help us get a more personal understanding of Jesus. Sometimes the image of Jesus is too distant, too impersonal. We don’t think of Him or allow ourselves to relate to Him as Mary or James and John and the others did in the Gospels. To understand the personal connection between Jesus and the man with leprosy in today’s incident, we have to understand something about leprosy at the time of Jesus. At that time, the word “leprosy” was used to describe a variety of contagious and awful skin diseases. They didn’t have the kind of hygiene we have today nor the resources to prevent contagion. The only thing they could do to protect the community from the spread of such disease was to cut off the person with leprosy off from the community. So here was this poor person with a painful and repugnant skin disease that no one knew how to cure, separated from friends and loved ones and from normal life. Often a person with leprosy was required to ring a bell so people would have time to get out of the way whenever he or she came near. These people also were cut off from religious practice and even worse, there was the feeling that such conditions were the result of God’s condemnation, or family or personal sin. So, let’s look at how Jesus interacts with this man. First, the Gospel tells us the person with leprosy approached Jesus. “Approach” is a key word. He kept coming near but Jesus didn’t back away. He even broke the law by coming near to Jesus, but Jesus did not prevent him from doing so. Then he falls to his knees and it is a pathetic scene as this man, who has been cut off from his family and lived a dreadful life for perhaps years, now pleads with Jesus by saying, “If you will to do so, you can cure me.” The next thing we read is that Jesus was moved with pity. This is not a good translation of the Greek word. The word translated as “pity” actually means his insides were twisted. The same word was used, for example, when Judas hung himself and his entrails poured out. The Gospel is telling us that Jesus was not an impersonal healer, going around dispensing cures. He became emotionally involved. He was feeling like you and I feel when we see a young child struck with a terrible illness. We are “twisted up” inside and perhaps even angry that such things happen. As a matter of fact, some of the earlier Greek manuscripts have a slightly different word that would indicate Jesus is angry in this way. Imagine Jesus caring that much about you that he is angry for you. Then the most dramatic moment of all. “Jesus stretched out His hand … and touched him.” Do you realize how long it had been since that man had been touched by another human being? And do you realize that Jesus didn’t have to touch him? Jesus had cured people from the next town over. He wanted to touch him as a sign of love and tenderness and compassion. All of this gives us some indication of the kind of person Jesus is, and an indication of why people came from all over to be with Him. He was the kind of person who was just plain good and real. He brought out people from all directions who, as all people do, responded to goodness. Once we understand better the kind of person Jesus is, perhaps we can more easily appreciate what Jesus did for the man with leprosy in the Gospel. Jesus was not trying to patch things up at the surface level of a skin disease. The miracles of Jesus were intended to be signs of a much deeper healing that he came to bring to all people.

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