12 Feb – Sixth Sunday of Ordinary Time
Jesus, Friend Of Outcasts
To bring help to outcasts, Jesus himself had to become an outcast and ‘stay outside in places where nobody lived’.
– The Sunday Missal
The Lord said to Moses and Aaron, ‘If a swelling or scab or shiny spot appears on a man’s skin, a case of leprosy of the skin is to be suspected. The man must be taken to Aaron, the priest, or to one of the priests who are his sons.
‘The man is leprous: he is unclean. The priest must declare him unclean; he is suffering from leprosy of the head. A man infected with leprosy must wear his clothing torn and his hair disordered; he must shield his upper lip and cry, “Unclean, unclean.” As long as the disease lasts he must be unclean; and therefore he must live apart: he must live outside the camp.’
1 Corinthians 10:31-11:1
Whatever you eat, whatever you drink, whatever you do at all, do it for the glory of God. Never do anything offensive to anyone – to Jews or Greeks or to the Church of God; just as I try to be helpful to everyone at all times, not anxious for my own advantage but for the advantage of everybody else, so that they may be saved. Take me for your model, as I take Christ.
A leper came to Jesus and pleaded on his knees: ‘If you want to’ he said ‘you can cure me.’ Feeling sorry for him, Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him. ‘Of course I want to!’ he said. ‘Be cured!’ And the leprosy left him at once and he was cured. Jesus immediately sent him away and sternly ordered him, ‘Mind you say nothing to anyone, but go and show yourself to the priest, and make the offering for your healing prescribed by Moses as evidence of your recovery.’ The man went away, but then started talking about it freely and telling the story everywhere, so that Jesus could no longer go openly into any town, but had to stay outside in places where nobody lived. Even so, people from all around would come to him.
I once went to an animal welfare organisation as part of my teacher training programme. Though the focus of their work was on wildlife, there were a number of domestic animals in the compound, including dogs. Some of these dogs had been abandoned. Two in particular stood out. One had a missing leg. The other was once paralysed. Both were nursed back to health and were living happily with the others. The common response would have been to leave them be or to put them to sleep but it was not so here.
The first reading and the gospel passage present an interesting dichotomy regarding lepers. The former categorically states that lepers were to be cast out of the community. This was the status quo for generations. Lepers were unclean, unloved. Christ, in the gospel, bears no such sentiment. The curing of the leper was not just a physical healing but a restoration of status in the community. This is the worth of every person to be saved that Paul wrote of in the second reading.
Community is something all of us need. Unfortunately, there are some who do not fit in perfectly. The elderly, the infirm, those with special learning needs are the more visible examples. There are also those who are side-lined because of social skills or differing views. All are also deserving of love. My brothers and sisters, do you know of any of these “unloved”? Will our response be the common one or the Christian one?
(Today’s OXYGEN by Aloysius Ting)
Prayer: We pray that we will not be blinded by prejudices.
Thanksgiving: We give thanks to the Lord for giving us all a second chance.