JESUS SHOWS COMPASSION TO SINNERS
Lev 13:1-2, 44-46; Ps 32:1-2, 5, 11 (R.v.7); 1 Cor 10:31 1:1; Mark 1:40-45
Following the Churchs Liturgical Calendar, the Forty Days of Lent begin with Ash Wednesday in this week. During the period, the voice of the Prophet Joel would ring out once more, “Even now, says the Lord, return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping and with mourning; and tear your hearts and not your garments. Return to the Lord for he is gracious and merciful.”
Providentially, today, being the last Sunday before the Lent begins, the Gospel gives us a practical example of the graciousness and merciful nature of God. Jesus broke the rules to reach out to the leper. Following the prescriptions of the Mosaic Law, anyone who touches anything that is unclean would himself be made unclean for a certain period of time (cf. Lev 22:4ff). Jesus knew about that but his compassion for the leper outweighed the fear of ostracism.
The leper himself also contributed to the reason why he was so favoured. The First Reading tells us about how a leper should be treated like an outcast that nobody should associate with. This sickness therefore comes with shame and the loss of sense of belonging. Possibly, the pious men of the society would have ran away to avoid being defiled by the leper while the crowd must have been shouting at him the way they did to Bartimaeus (cf. Mark 10:48). But this leper overcame the shame and fear and walked up to Jesus. His faith was stronger than his fear.
How much do we co-operate with the opportunities which God gives us on daily bases to come back to him? Sin is a kind of leprosy and we need to come to Jesus for cleansing.
Since Jesus himself has given us an example by not joining in ostracizing the leper, St. Paul encourages us in the Second Reading not to discriminate against anyone. Rather we should try to please all men in everything we do.
By the way, are you among those in doubt on why you must confess your sins to a priest and receive absolution from your sins at his hands? Are you among those who condemn the sacramental confession to a priest? Listen to this! Even after curing the leper, Jesus still sent him to go and meet a priest who is supposed to declare him cleansed according to the law (cf. Mark 1:44; Lev 13). If Jesus recognized the role of the priest in absolving someone after ostracism, who are we to condemn it?
May God give us the grace to make good use of all the opportunities he gives us, especially in the coming Lenten Season, to come back to him. And as we turn to him in faith, may he cure us of all that separate us from him through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Have a memorable and miraculous Sunday. Peace be with you.