for Sunday, February 15, 2015
It is not easy for us to understand being excluded completely from society,
as were lepers in much of the Old Testament and even in the time of Jesus.
Perhaps at this time in history, a close approximation to this situation
would be someone who has just returned from a country with the ebola virus.
There can be an enormous fear of being infected and a complete rejection
of the person who has been in an ebola area.
Thinking about ebola and the scare that it can cause helps us understand
the first reading and the Gospel today. The first reading, from the Book
of Leviticus, tells us about how lepers are to be treated. We understand
this attempt at quarantine as an effort to protect the community as a
whole. Such efforts are not rejection of a person but an honest attempt to
deal with the disease the person might spread and which could affect the
The person afflicted with leprosy seeks healing in order to be allowed back
into normal society. Most of us don't want to be completely shunned by
others! We want to belong to society even if we don't need to be the
center of attention. So too the person with leprosy. He or she would want
to become part of the community once again but it would be impossible for
most of them. For a few, whatever disease afflicted them might disappear
and they could be readmitted.
In the Gospel, a leper comes to Jesus and is cured. Jesus tells the leper
not to tell others. That is impossible. The Gospel tells us that then
Jesus begins to remain outside, in deserted places. That is to say, Jesus
begins to live as most lepers lived: apart from others and in deserted
places. It is almost as if Jesus trades place with the leper after he
Two challenges present themselves to us today. Am I willing to pray for
the life of others and to ask God to cure them? Most of us Christians,
followers of Jesus, are able to pray for others. But am I willing to offer
my own life for the sake of another person? It is not just the healing of
the other person, but am I willing to take on the form of a slave, as was
Am I willing to become outcast from all others so that another person can
be accepted once more within the human community? Am I willing not to seek
my own benefit but that of the many, that they may be saved? This is the
teaching of the First Letter to the Corinthians in the second reading
To follow Jesus and to ask the healing presence of Jesus is not about doing
good without a cost! Instead, I must be willing to give up my life for
others, as did our Lord Jesus. There is no life in Christ without being
willing to give up my life. There is always a cost to following Jesus.
Yet we know that if we give all, He also will give us all in His Kingdom.
Praise God forever!
Readings of the day:
First Reading: Leviticus 13.1-2, 45-46
Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 10.31 - 11.1
Gospel: Mark 1.40-45
Reflections are available for the following Sundays: