6TH SUNDAY ORDINARY TIME B
The life of a leper before and during the time of Jesus was a total wreck. Being an outcast, not able to live and worship together with the community, he/she was considered a living dead. He was considered a sinner punished by God. In the story of the healing of the leper in the gospel today, Jesus wanted to correct the popular interpretation of leprosy and show the mercy of God.
In the story, we see two bold actions: On the part of the leper – for his braveness to break the social norms to go to Jesus, carrying with him his unwavering hope ("If you are willing, you can cleanse me") and utter humility (he knelt down). On the part of Jesus – for his boldness to welcome, to touch and to heal the leper. A miracle like this takes the boldness of man and God to make an impossible thing possible.
Let’s analyze the actions of Jesus: a) feeling sorry for the leper (Jesus understood the wretchedness of the leper being an outcast and rejected because He Himself will also experience the same and even worse, later in His life) b) stretched out His hand (Jesus bridged the social and ritual gap, the leper being separated from the community) c) touched him (nobody is allowed to touch any leper lest the person becomes ritually unclean; Jesus, by touching, became one with the leper) d) Jesus said “I am willing, be cleansed” (the miracle took place with the actions of Jesus together with the power of His word; the healing was called cleansing when the skin was put back to normal).
The once dreaded disease though still exists today is now contained, thanks to the wonder of research, science and medicine. Presently “leprosy” has taken many other forms in our society: drug addiction, alcoholism, abortion, etc. But there is a spiritual leprosy that continues to plague humanity even today and this is SIN. Because of this, we don’t have to look around because the reality is deep inside us. Nobody is spared, we have to accept it. And yet in spite of our sinfulness, we continue to hope because we are not a wretched and hopeless case for God. Yes, we maybe the worst sinner but nonetheless we are a loved sinner!
If God sees us this way and treats us in very special manner, should we not pay the favor to others? It’s not just about celebrating the goodness within us that matters but most especially the overflowing of that goodness and channeling it to others. This is what Jesus did to the leper; he did not see the leprosy but the inherent goodness of the man and let it overflow through acceptance and love. After the healing, the man started proclaiming the story everywhere so that people from all around kept coming to Jesus. The goodness of the man was overflowing and he could not help but to share it to others. How do you overflow your goodness to others?