Faith Daily | 14 January 2021
PRAYER of the WEEK Baptism of the Lord
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 Hilary Bell
If this narrative seems very familiar it is because less than a week ago we read the same account from Luke’s gospel. The healing of the leper is also recorded by Matthew.
I ponder: why did Jesus sternly tell the man with leprosy not to tell anyone? Did he foresee the crowds who would almost overwhelm him, seeing him as a miracle healer but not prepared to accept him as the Messiah, the Son of God?
I wonder: why, after such a transforming act of healing, did the leper blatantly disobey Jesus by going out and proclaiming it freely?
But what draws me deeper again into this story is the touch. Jesus shows no fear, no revulsion. He displays pity and compassion towards the man, the sufferer, the outcast. In some translations Jesus is described as being angry, or indignant, presumably towards those who have taken “the law” beyond justice and humanity to narrow interpretations of righteousness and purity, attitudes which we would now think almost superstitious, blaming the victim, assuming some sin led to this disease, excluding him from society, from everyday contact and from participation in religious rites because he was “unclean”. In this religion there are rules, black and white judgements, no blurring of lines, no grey areas, definitely no mercy and compassion, no sense of walking in another’s shoes.
Then Jesus reaches out to touch the man, to heal him, to make him “clean”. In doing so, Jesus defiles himself according to “the law”.
This to me becomes a metaphor for Jesus “he who knew no sin” taking on our sin, sacrificed on the cross for us to be saved. By him we are made clean. Only through him are we healed and restored.
FINAL PRAYER: Adapted from Guild of St Raphael
Lord Jesus Christ,
to whom in days of old
the sick and suffering were brought
that You might make them whole:
Bless your Church in its ministry to the sick
that it may fulfil your holy will and purpose
and use all means of grace
for the healing of your people.
Grant to those who desire
your healing true penitence, full pardon,
and perfect peace for the sake of your Holy Name.