Do we invite Jesus’ healing presence into our lives?
Mosaic law was quite strict in its attention to what it described as lepers. In the Book of Leviticus, the Lord tells Moses and Aaron that those who manifest a sore of leprosy are required to exile themselves from their community. Visual signs – rent garments, a bare head, a muffled beard – tell people to stay away from the individual in question, who is to cry out, Unclean! Unclean! But the leper, and by extension anyone exiled from the community due to illness, sin or other causes, is not necessarily permanently ostracized. Psalm 32 details the way restoration of the sinful one to community can take place: Blessed is he whose fault is taken away, the psalmist sings, that he might be restored to union, to right relationship with God, by God’s action in his life.
In Mark’s Gospel, Jesus likewise reaches beyond human barriers to restore those who are exiled from their community. Moved with pity, Jesus reaches out and touches the leper who asks to be made clean. The man is now restored to community; he has become part of the whole again. God’s action – Jesus’ healing – thus transcends Mosaic law, opening the way for grace to enter this man’s life. It is this transformative restoration that we are to strive for every time we too experience distance from the community: we must invite Jesus’ healing presence into our lives. And, as part of that community, we must imitate Christ and do everything for the glory of God, as Paul tells the Corinthians, with particular attention to the benefit of the many, that no one may ever be exiled, ostracized or rejected, only included, in the broad and diverse embrace of God’s love.
This post is based on Fr. Pat’s Scripture class.
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