The Bishops Homily – 6th Sunday In Ordinary Time

6th Sunday In Ordinary Time
(WORLD DAY OF PRAYER FOR THE SICK)
Cycle B | 11/02/18
Lev. 13: 1-2; 44-46
I Cor. 10: 31- 11: 1)
Mk. 1: 40-45

 

INTRODUCTION: Our Gospel for this Sunday portrays one of the great scene of healing in the ministry of Jesus. As it happens usually, the Gospel Writer composes the scene in such a way that it becomes an icon of our spiritual life. The readings fit very well with what the Church through Pope Francis reminds us on this World Day of Prayer for the Sick on this Memorial of the apparitions of Our Lady of Lourdes to St. Bernadette.

(1) The Church couples this Gospel with Lev. 13 from which to learn what being a leper meant then and for the first century Jew during the time of Jesus. Such a man is to be declared publicly unclean unlike and in contrast to a person with that or some other sickness which keeps him ashamed to go out of his house. It meant his garment has to be permanently torn and his head kept bare as signs of degradation.

Moreover, he was compelled to cry out “Unclean! Unclean!” so that no one will come nearer to him. All these would mean that the leper is excluded from common life, specially from worship. For ancient Israel, worship is the center of its life.

That is why everyone would on certain days of the year be obliged to come to the Temple to worship. That is why he “shall dwell apart, making his abode outside the camp.” A leper is ostracized like Dante or our own Jose Rizal was exiled from their own city or like the lepers on the Island of Molokai during the time of St. Peter Damian.

(2) In the Gospel of Mark where Jesus is portrayed predominantly as a healer or wonder worker, the first thing said is “a leper came to Jesus.” There is a world of meaning in this little phrase. We are all meant to identify with this man because in our sickness (weakness, shame, sin, oddness) we all feel like the leper. In his desperation, the man gets the courage to come to Jesus like the woman with a flow of blood or Zachaeus or the blind Bartimaeus.

Once in the Lord’s presence, the leper “knelt down” said Mark (in Luke “fell prostrate on his face;” in Matthew, “did him homage”) all mean the same thing. this suffering, ostracized man realizes who Jesus really is — not one prophet among many, not a wandering wiseman but the incarnation of the God of Israel, the only one before whom worship is the appropriate attitude.

Whatever trouble we are in we should come to Jesus in the attitude of worship. He is the Lord; we are not! This is the key step to make our life in order whatever our issue is. The key step is right praise. When we worship God right, that’s when our life comes to order.

(3) The request of the leper: “if you will it, you can make me clean.” He is not demand- ing nor insisting. He is acknowledging the Lordship of Jesus in the attitude of worship. Why does Jesus not heal everybody now? Nobody knows! We trust in his Lordship! In his lifetime, Jesus healed some not all; raised to life a few, not all. In this case, Jesus acquiesces! “Moved with pity, Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him and said: “I do will it; be cured.” In touching the leper, he made him clean.

CONCLUSION: What is the result of all this? “The man went off and began to proclaim the whole matter freely, making the story public.” Once healed by the Lord, we feel that inner obligation to tell the world about it. That is evangelization!

As long as we treat evangelization as a mere intellectual exercise, we will never do it right. The evangelist is someone who despite his weakness comes to Christ and finds healing and tells the world about it. The evangelist is one hungry person telling another hungry person where to find bread. That is how the leper became such a powerful evangełist.

Most Rev. Antonio R. Tobias, DD
Bishop of Novaliches

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