We hear a snippet of the rules surrounding leprosy in the first reading this week. If we were to go to the book of Leviticus there are over 100 verses regarding leprosy in the Law of Moses. One of the main consequences is that someone suffering from leprosy had to live apart from the camp, away from the rest of the Community. The leper in the Gospel reading seems quite forward in his approach to Jesus. ‘If you want to, you can cure me’, are the words he used to Jesus, quite presumptive in fact. Jesus quite happily obliges, and ordered the man to say nothing to anyone; but to do as the law of Moses called him to do and go show himself to the priest.
The irony here is that because the man was so overjoyed by being cured he told everyone, forcing Jesus to live outside of populated areas, in one sense exchanging places with the leper; losing some of his freedom to go where he wanted to.
In Biblical days people with disabilities or who were different were shunned, left to beg for their needs. Jesus did not shun the leper; he found a way to bring the man back into the community. Surely this is a message for us too.
In our community, who do we shun?
Who would feel excluded by us?
Are they not the very ones, who Jesus would invite into our community?
Whilst leprosy is still a disease nowadays, and people still work to find a cure, we can also see leprosy as being like sin. Sin cuts us off from our community, and from the source of holiness, just like the lepers were cut off in Jesus’ time. As we approach the beginning of Lent, we are reminded that this is a time of penance, a time for us all to prepare for the 40 day journey which takes us towards Easter. We can only experience the full joy of Easter if we take part fully in the season of Lent.
I pray that this Lent we all find the time to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation, that we can all look at ways to uphold the three pillars of Lent – fasting, prayer and almsgiving and that by taking part in that wonderful Sacrament, we may all be reconciled to each other and to God.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church
Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time
CCC 1474: living in Christ unites all believers in him
CCC 1939-1942: human solidarity
CCC 2288-2291: respect for health
Please keep in your prayers this week
- Those who are sick, those recovering from surgery, those who are dying, the recently deceased and those who mourn.
- All those struggling to feed their families at this time.
- Those working to help others who are struggling with the cost-of-living crisis.
- Those discerning a vocation and those considering coming into the Catholic Church.
- The innocent people caught up in wars and conflicts around the world, but especially those in Palestine, Israel, Ukraine, Russia, Syria and Iraq.
- Those preparing for Sacraments this Easter.