1st Week in Ordinary Time
1st Reading: Heb 3:7-14
The Holy Spirit says: Oh, that today you would hear his voice, “Harden not your hearts as at the rebellion in the day of testing in the desert, where your ancestors tested and tried me and saw my works for forty years. Because of this I was provoked with that generation and I said, ‘They have always been of erring heart, and they do not know my ways.’ As I swore in my wrath, ‘They shall not enter into my rest.’” Take care, brothers and sisters, that none of you may have an evil and unfaithful heart, so as to forsake the living God. Encourage yourselves daily while it is still “today,” so that none of you may grow hardened by the deceit of sin. We have become partners of Christ if only we hold the beginning of the reality firm until the end.
Gospel: Mk 1:40-45
A leper came to him and kneeling down begged him and said, “If you wish, you can make me clean.” Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand, touched the leper, and said to him, “I do will it. Be made clean.” The leprosy left him immediately, and he was made clean. Then, warning him sternly, he dismissed him at once. Then he 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.
…he stretched out his hand, touched the leper: Leprosy was considered an impurity (Lv 13-14; Nm 5:2) at the time of Jesus. Since it was a dreaded disease, those who contracted it were excluded from the society (Lv 13:45-46, Nm 5:2-3) for the health and ritual good of others. Lepers, socially stigmatized as they were, announced their state and presence in any place people were, as to prevent contact with anyone. Contact with a leper had a ritual implication and by touching the leper, Jesus risked ritual impurity. Yet at the plea of the leper, “If you wish, you can make me clean,” Jesus was moved with pity, stretched out his hand and touched the leper, and said to him, “I do will it. Be made clean.” Jesus identifies with suffering humanity; he meets us in those areas of our lives where no one else understands. There, he makes us experience how much God loves and cares about us. He comforts us so that we can also comfort others (2 Cor 1:4).
Prayer: Lord, we thank you for your presence in our lives, help us to become your instruments of mercy and compassion. Amen
THE MEN WENT AWAY IN FEAR AND DEFEAT: In the first reading, we see the men walking with a lot of courage when they have the Ark of the covenant. They have God with them. However, they are trying to use God for their selfish gains and God cannot be reduced to this. After the defeat, they flee in fear. In the Gospel, the leper comes to Jesus in awe and in faith. Jesus is moved with pity and saves him. He walks away freed from leprosy. He walks away in confidence and joy of being healed. How do we approach Jesus in the Eucharist? Do we do so in awe and faith, or in arrogance desiring to manipulate God? Let us remember that we can never manipulate God. Let us be honest in our dealings with God and trust him. Indeed, he will heal us.
Prayer: O Lord help us to be your true arks, that people may come to you, making you known and loved.
UNDYING SPIRIT: The leper went to Jesus knelt and begged him saying, “If you wish, you can make me clean.” And immediately the leper was healed by Jesus. One may ask, what moved the leper to ask Jesus to heal him? Was it his grave sickness? No, his leprosy is not the driving force that moved him to seek the help of Jesus. It was the leper’s deep faith in Jesus! And what drove Jesus to heal the leper? Was it his leprosy? No. It was the leper’s great faith in Him! What brings us to Jesus and why do we pray to Jesus? Do we pray to Jesus because of our problems? Are we doing this because of our sickness? Our sickness and our problems must not be the primary reason why we go to pray. It must always be our deep faith in Him! Because the more we are driven by faith to go to Jesus, the bigger our chance of being heard by Him!
BECAUSE EVERY LIFE MATTERS: Jesus is not a trickster perfecting his art, nor attracting more spectators to witness his trade. He cares for every life. When confronted with the image and the prayer of the leper, He is moved with compassion. He gives all his attention and proclaims, “I choose to heal you.” If our faith and expression of our Christian living is confined to liturgy and to the services at church, we stand to lose the very presence of Jesus who cares for each of us. In this way, we reduce our Christianity. May we learn from Jesus who on His way to Calvary spends a whole night in prayer with the Father. He teaches us the essence of the Good News; not mere words but visible actions in God. When within God then we can say like the Senegalese, Baba Dioum, “In the end we will conserve only what we love, we will love only what we understand and we will understand only what we are taught.”