Sixth Sunday Ordinary Time
Leviticus 13:1-2, 44-46
I Corinthians 10:31- 11:1
Mark 1: 40-45
Fr. Mark – I can’t go on! Turning toward Jake, say, “Jake, you have to go, and you have to go right now!”
Jake – “Fr. Mark! What have I done?”
Fr. Mark – Jake, you are too tall, too skinny, and have more hair than I do! Now go!
Jake – leaves, looking dejected, and at the halfway point turns and says, “Give me another chance!”
Now that was quite dramatic, but it happens all the time in our lives. We dismiss people for good reasons, for wrong reasons, and no reason at all. Our readings challenge us to think of those we have rejected in our lives and ask God for his help in returning them to our family.
In our first reading, we are given the basic Hebrew understanding of holiness and wholeness. The Hebrew people understood that God created everything, and it was good. Their whole existence was to protect what was good. There was an understanding that if one was wealthy or healthy, they were good and blessed by God. If a person was poor or unhealthy, it was because the person did something wrong and God was not blessing them. In any skin ailment, one would have to separate themselves from the community so others would not get sick. The person was treated as a public sinner, and you could have no physical contact with anyone. All of this information sets up for us our gospel story.
In our Gospel, a leper approaches Jesus, and he does not follow anything of the rules of what he was to do as he walks up to Jesus and says, “Jesus, if you wish, you can heal me.” This is a proclamation of faith! The man is saying, “Jesus, I know you can heal me, but it is up to you.” The original text says, “Jesus was moved with pity.” In translating the Greek, it is Jesus has compassion for the man that his insides felt like they were being poured out.
The big challenge comes in the words of St. Paul, “Whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God.” Paul is saying, “Every action we make should be done, to build up the community of God.”
My friends in Christ, in every relationship that I have, I have to ask myself, “How have I by my words, thoughts, and actions either excluded this person or welcomed this person?” We come to this Eucharist to the one who made the leper whole and welcomed them back to the community. May we welcome those who we have excluded back into our community?