Wellspring of Scripture


Year B: 6th Sunday in Ordinary Time

The Gospel: Mark 1: 40-45      


Today, we have the third in a series of healings. We have had a healing which liberated someone from an evil which held them bound - the healing of someone so that they were able to serve the Lord - today’s healing  allows someone to re-enter the community.


At the time, people with leprosy were excluded from the community (see the First Reading). They were forced to leave their homes, their families and communities. They lived in colonies - gradually becoming more disfigured and alienated. They were considered to be “unclean” which meant that they were unable to attend synagogues - to read the Scriptures - to offer sacrifice. All religious and spiritual practices were forbidden them since they could not go into any populated place.

It was a desolate existence.


When the leper approached Jesus, he was, in fact, going against the Law. This said that he should have called out to warn Jesus and the disciples that he was unclean and that they should keep away. Instead, in desperation, he comes to Jesus and speaks directly to Him.


In his wretched state, he has seen in Jesus someone who could heal him - the question was did Jesus want to heal someone who was ritually unclean - who, some said, was leprous because of some sin?


Jesus, of course, wants to and reaches out and touches him - strictly speaking, making Himself unclean in the process. At once (one of Mark’s favourite phrases again!) the leprosy leaves the man and he is healed.


Jesus then brings things back to order and tells the man to follow the procedure laid down in the Law for re-admittance to the community. He is free to go and rejoin his family and, crucially, to go to the Temple and worship the God who has healed him.

He is also asked not to speak openly of the healing - but questions would no doubt have been asked - and his joy would have loosened his tongue. Sadly, this meant that the One who had healed him was now, Himself, forced to stay in places where no-one else lived.


However, His message is clear - the Kingdom is about re-including those who have been excluded and marginalised...

What does it mean for me?

Who are the modern-day equivalents of lepers?

What does today’s Gospel tell us about the attitude we should have towards them?

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