Last week we heard how Jesus healed Peter’s mother-in-law and restored her to the family circle; today He heals the leper. In other places in the Gospel Jesus heals the corruption of the temple officials. His message is that the reign of God is here and everyone (no exceptions) belongs. This is a matter of justice for Jesus…to put everything in right relationship with God, the Father.
Following the example of Jesus, this is supposed to be our way, too. Jesus reaches out and touches the leper, the outcast, the untouchable, and He restores the separated and marginalized to wholeness in the community—the leper is cleansed and is able to participate in Community again. As followers of Jesus we are all called to heal each other and cast out our personal demons, too. You know them: greed and lust, mean-spiritedness, injustice, selfishness, addiction, fear and anger (to name just a few).
We don’t have to actually cure lepers (there is medicine that cures them of leprosy—Hansen’s disease). Leprosy, as it turns out is not very contagious and not so common a disease. Two thousand years ago people thought that anything flaky or peeling was leprous. Interestingly, it wasn’t only human beings who were unclean: things like walls or tools or fabrics with scales or flakes were leprous, too! There is a cure for leprosy today, but injustice and all those other diseases and demons are still rampant among us and are viral. (Just look at FB.) These problems and issues (diseases and communal demons) are what we are expected to “cure” and “cast out” as Christians and believers. We are called to help put people in right relationship, to help make them whole again. If you follow Jesus, you are called to do the same. You welcome new people when they need rescue from oppression and injustice and prejudice. You give to people who hunger and thirst for righteousness and justice. You invest your time, talent and treasure (cash) for the Kingdom on earth.
St. Paul tells us today to be imitators of Christ and to “do everything for the glory of God.” We all know that doing the “right” things: being generous, merciful, loving and forgiving can make a difference to those around us. As believers we must strive to be Christ-like; this is the call of discipleship—and Christ is the model for healing in the world.
In today’s Gospel story the leper begs Jesus to heal him, and Our Lord in pity and mercy, heals him with a touch of His hand. We all have times when we need to ask for healing of one sort or another; and we all have times in which healing is asked of us. We are Christ’s hands in the world and must act to heal what we are capable of healing.
On Wednesday this week, we begin the penitential season of Lent. Our Lenten journey is an opportunity to turn inward and to focus on our continuing conversion; to work to fulfill our destinies as a holy and healing people. In this spirit, Church worship has changes that allow the people of God more consciousness and awareness in our prayer and worship. Lent gives us the opportunity to rest and renew in our faith—and to heal and be healed in mind and spirit.
Our liturgy in Lent reflects a spirit of simplifying. Watch for these changes: sacred silence, more quiet prayer together. We fast from the Gloria and from Alleluias, from flowers and plants and greenery until we arrive at and enter the great Three Days: The Triduum. We change our style of worship to encourage a time of prayer, penance and alms giving. Please be alert to the differences in our liturgy as this is an opportunity to practice concentration in worship and to place all in God’s hands—to turn away from the distraction of worldly things. This is the gift and wisdom of our Church’s liturgical cycles: we are given the opportunity to grow in faith through our worship: to be healed, to cast out all our various demons, and to rise to new spiritual life. Happy Lent!
Keep singing in your hearts!