Today's Scriptural Meditation Readings:
Februrary 15 A.D. 2009
Scripture from today's Liturgy of the Word:
Leviticus 13:1-2, 44-46
Psalm 32:1-2, 5, 11
1 Corinthians 10:31-11:1
A reflection on today's Scripture:
Most people are repulsed by the sight of bodily deformity, whether it be a mangled face or an ugly sore. In the time of Jesus, leprosy was a broad term for acne, ringworm, or psoriasis, as well as for Hanson's disease. Leprosy in its worst forms involved running sores, decaying flesh, and a putrid odor. Because the early Israelites thought any skin deformity was contagious, the Mosaic Law called for the exclusion of lepers from normal society. They were to shout out, "Unclean, unclean!" when someone approached them. Their humiliation and loneliness of life must have been just as painful as their deformed bodies.
In today's Gospel, the people who were listening to Jesus' teaching must have been indignant at the leper who dared approach that close to Jesus, and beg Him for a cure. Then they must have been horrified that Jesus actually reached out and touched this outcast. That made Jesus Himself legally unclean. What a powerful lesson Jesus' action taught that day! He was obviously compassionate, generously sacrificing His own social status by healing the man.
And, because the newly-cured leper, ignoring Jesus' advice, spread the word of the healing throughout the region, he now made it impossible for Jesus to be seen in any public place without being mobbed by those seeking a similar cure. While the leper returned to society, Jesus was forced out. The Messiah was now the one who needed to seek out desert places!
After this incident, Jesus' listeners knew they should never fear to approach the Master because of their past sins or social standing. He would understand and show compassion. To the "dark side" in each of us, Jesus brings light and healing, if only we can trust in His love. What is holding me back today from approaching Jesus for healing or just for His friendship? There's no such thing as an "outsider" in Jesus' book. All are welcome who seek His loving touch.
Another question: who are the lepers in my book? Do I avoid those who are repulsive to me? Do I shun those with whom I disagree, or those I just don't like? We can all learn from one another. Remember Jesus' words, "I will reject no one who comes to me." We can at least follow the advice of today's second reading and "avoid giving offense." A smile, a welcoming word, patiently listening and then giving a loving response is not going to kill us! In fact, we will receive much more than we give.
- Msgr. Paul Whitmore
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Sunday, February 15, 2009
Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lives of the saints:
Full Scripture text from today's Liturgy of the Word:
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