Modern Day “Leprosy”

Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lev 13: 1-2, 44-46; 1 Cor 10: 31 – 11: 1; Mark 1: 40-45
Deacon Larry Brockman

Today, we hear all about Leprosy. In the ancient world, Leprosy was a truly dreaded disease. If you had it; then that was it for you because there was no cure. You would experience a slow, painful death.

The First reading talks about what the Mosaic Law prescribed for Lepers. That law was written to protect everybody else; it did nothing to comfort or cure the Leper. The Leper was an outcast, who had to leave home and family. He had to wear his garments rent, or torn, so that his sores were visible. This would assure that anyone passing by would be able to discern his Leprosy. And the Leper was not to approach anyone. Nobody could even touch him or they would be ostracized as well for fear that the disease would spread.

Just imagine how that made the Leper feel- no human contact whatsoever; no physical contact, no hugs, nothing. Contrast all that to the Gospel Story of the Leper. The Leper boldly comes forward to approach Jesus. And kneeling before the Lord Jesus with a humble and heartfelt demeanor, he begs Jesus to heal him. Jesus, moved by compassion, wills that the Leper be cured. The Leper is cured instantly, a major miracle for that time and age! And despite being admonished not to mention his cure to anyone, the Leper broadcasts his good fortune to all.

So, what does this all mean to us? Well, think of Leprosy and sin in an allegorical sense. There is absolutely nothing that mankind could do about Leprosy in either Moses or Jesus day and age because it was beyond medical science; it was incurable. The Leper was isolated and doomed to death. It took the word of God and the grace that flows from it to cure the Leper. And the Leper was cured instantly. One can imagine his joy, and why he ignored Jesus request not to publicize his good fortune. The man must have been beside himself because he had regained his life.

Similarly, when we sin, there is no earthly remedy for it. We are isolated from God and if our sin is serious, we are doomed to death. Like the Leper, we must approach God with a humble and contrite heart, kneel before him, confess our sin, and ask for the remedy from him. It takes the word of God and the grace that flows from it to cure us of our sins because sin is an incurable disease in the mind of God for those who are unrepentant. Like the Leper, if we are truly heartfelt in our appeal to be healed of Sin, then God will heal us instantly, just as He healed the Leper. And like the Leper, we should be joyful to know that we are restored to God’s good graces, and ready for renewed zest for life in the Kingdom of God.

Now the signs of sin, especially in today’s secular society are also kind of like the sores that appear in Leprosy. They are blemishes that we carry around with us and they haunt us. Addictions, gossip, loss of temper, unkindness, lust, and envy are just some of the sins that can haunt us. They may not be as physical in appearance as the sore of Leprosy; but they are obvious blemishes on our character- often obvious to others around us.

Persons who are isolated from God by these sins are often preoccupied with themselves. They can be depressed and out of sorts because their consciences eat away at them. Like leprosy, this hurt can’t be healed by the secular society that tempted them; but such hurt can be healed by God, and God is moved by compassion to do so. All we have to do is recognize our sin, kneel before God, and ask for forgiveness.

Lent is just a few days away from us. Lent is a time when we are called to examine our consciences, repent of our sin, and renew our relationship with God. We will be conducting a Lenten Mission from February 19th through the 21st here at Holy Family. Renowned inspirational speaker and author Fr. Cedric Pesegna will conduct the mission. As part of the mission, a Penance Service will be held on February 20th. The mission and the Penance service are excellent opportunities to cleanse yourself of your Leprosy, your sin. Don’t miss that opportunity.

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