Faith Daily | 13 January 2022
PRAYER of the DAY - APBA p 526
who anointed Jesus at his baptism with the Holy Spirit
and revealed him as your beloved Son:
inspire us, your children,
who are born again of water and the Spirit,
to surrender our lives to your service,
that we may rejoice to be called your children;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
GOSPEL for the Day: Mark 1: 40-45
40 A leper came to him begging him, and kneeling he said to him, ‘If you choose, you can make me clean.’ 41Moved with pity,* Jesus* stretched out his hand and touched him, and said to him, ‘I do choose. Be made clean!’ 42Immediately the leprosy* left him, and he was made clean. 43After sternly warning him he sent him away at once, 44saying to him, ‘See that you say nothing to anyone; but go, show yourself to the priest, and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.’ 45But he went out and began to proclaim it freely, and to spread the word, so that Jesus* could no longer go into a town openly, but stayed out in the country; and people came to him from every quarter.
GOSPEL Reflection: Contributed by: Kay Murry
I've always meant to take one of the day trips to historic Peel Island, but it's still pending. Situated between North Stradbroke and Cleveland, Peel Island was, among other things, our very own Lazaret, or Leper Colony, between 1907 and 1959. The patients were very firmly quarantined; from each other, families and friends - though not, as on Molokai Island in Hawaii, also declared dead! Ironically, Wikipedia states that the strain of leprosy that infected Peel Island's inhabitants was later realised to be non-contagious... Medications were used there, and as we now know, leprosy is curable, and not easily contagious or infectious.
Since it was possible to be declared 'clean' in Jesus' day, it was presumably known to be curable then, too. But the hoops the priests made a person jump through to reach this desirable state of being officially 'clean' were apparently costly and onerous. (Did the priests, in awe of God, really believe all the machinations were necessary to placate God for perceived sins that caused the illness, or was it just exercise of the power of their authority?).
The leper doesn't just kneel and beg Jesus for healing, he seems to be challenging him - ''...if you choose you can make me clean ". Whether he meant it or not, this does contrast Jesus' simple, direct methods of touch and word with the complicated instructions on procedures from priests. Scholars point out that some manuscripts have Jesus 'moved with anger', presumably at the Jerusalem priests and their heavy burdens of institutionalised procedures; the restrictions and constrictions they put on people's faith.
And what of Jesus' post-cure instructions to the (former) leper? A You-Tube video of the incident, where we could hear Jesus' tone of voice, would be so helpful here. Did he really mean the man to present himself to the priests as a testimony - and if so, to what? a testimony to his real healing, or that it didn't need to be as complicated as the priests demanded? Or was it a jokey, facetious remark to the healed man (That's what you Should do, we both know, don't we?). We don't know; but we do know the man ignored Jesus' instruction to 'keep schtum' and went about cheerfully spreading the word to all and sundry!
The next section, telling us that because of this publicity, Jesus had to preach in the countryside, reminded me of the then Anglican Wesley Brothers, John and Charles. They too preached out in the countryside in England, because The Establishment didn't approve of them. And the crowds flocked to them, too.
FINAL PRAYER: Disciplines Bruce D. Prewer
Help us, divine Teacher,
to close our eyes
that we may see,
to seek silence
that we may hear,
and to kneel low
that we may leap high;
to your glory.