Life to the Full

February 7, 2018 - 3:55pm
Jesus Heals Leper
Scripture Reflection for the Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Have you ever had a moment of silence where you realized that the mundane tasks of life were preventing you from living to the fullest?

While we do need to take care of the daily necessities, sometimes we live a half-hearted life of “just getting by.” But Jesus wants to give us life to the full. He wants to remove the things in our life that prevent us from appreciating the beauty around us, the gifts in our life, and truly experiencing the plans he has in store for us.

 

First Reading Reflection

Leviticus 12:1-2, 44-46

 

Today’s reading from Leviticus gives us some background for the Gospel reading. The Law of Moses contained many rules for ritual purity regarding washings, bathings, clothing, dead bodies, and bodily problems. Leviticus 13 appoints the Israelite priests as the official diagnosticians of skin disease. If a person was ruled ritually unclean because of a skin problem, then he would be excluded from worshipping with God’s people at the Tabernacle or Temple. In fact, he would have to live apart from the people, outside the camp and shout “unclean, unclean” (Lev 13:45) at people who came too near, so as to limit the risk of the contagion spreading.

Leprosy, which was and is a debilitating skin disease, was a physical sign for spiritual impurity. In the same way that bodily leprosy would exclude a person from spiritual communion with the Lord, sin excludes us from God’s presence and breaks our relationship with him. While we are in sin, we cannot truly worship God. Yet the ancient Israelites had no solution for leprosy. One could merely separate from the people but never be cured. Jesus brings a solution for the leprosy of sin. In fact, he is the solution. It is by his blood that our sins can be forgiven, and we can again be made clean before God.

 

Second Reading Reflection

1 Corinthians 6:13c-15a, 17-20

 

Here St. Paul concludes a long discussion of how our actions and our judgments of others intersect in Christian practice. Some of the early Christians regarded most meat available in the Roman world as sinful to eat, since most of it had been offered to idols. However, Paul insists that objectively there is no problem with the meat. The problem lies when eating the meat would cause scandal, leading pagans or other Christians astray. Paul wraps up this discussion with our short reading of his more general principle: to do everything for God’s glory, whether in eating or abstaining.

Paul’s teaching reveals the difficulty of living the Christian moral life in community. While each of us is responsible for obeying God’s law in the particular circumstances of our lives, we also must be aware of our brothers and sisters in Christ. Their relationship with God might hinge upon our behavior, and we need to be aware of the consciences of those around us, who may have scruples that we do not. We do not want to lead anyone into sin by our behavior, but rather lead them to Christ. Being sensitive to the spiritual needs of others and their disposition before God will help us to please them and God at the same time.

 

Gospel Reading Reflection

Mark 1:40-45

 

Our reading records one of the first miracles in the Gospel of Mark: the healing of the leper. Under normal circumstances, a Jewish priest could perform a diagnosis but no healing measures because leprosy was a permanent condition. Yet Jesus does not merely diagnose this leper. Instead, he touches the leper with his hand. Again, under normal circumstances in the Old Testament, you would never touch a leper because you could also contract the disease. However, in today’s Gospel, the Eternal High Priest reaches out and makes the leper clean. Jesus’s purity cleanses the impurity of the disease and eradicates its power in the man’s life.

Even though Jesus is in the process of revolutionizing the whole religion of Israel, he commands the healed man to follow procedure and get himself reinstated by a Jewish priest and perform the Temple rituals prescribed for cleansed lepers (Leviticus 14). Most of us don’t have leprosy, but since leprosy serves as a powerful metaphor for sin, we can identify with the leper in this gospel. He comes to Jesus in need. He seeks out the Savior but can’t really touch him. He needs to be touched by Jesus, and the Lord responds in power. In the same way, Jesus reaches out to heal us from the “leprosy” of sin.

 

Discussion

 

Please watch the short six-minute Opening the Word video on FORMED.org.  [Do you need a FORMED account? Set yours up free here.]

How do you try and live out St. Paul’s words to the Corinthians to do all that you do for the glory of God?

We all have something that needs to be healed in our lives: physical, emotional, or spiritual ailments that need the touch of Jesus. Where do you need him to heal you today?

 

 

Digging Deeper: Discernment of Spirits

 

St. Ignatius of Loyola had a phrase “ad maiorem Dei gloriam,” which translates “all for the greater honor and glory of God.” His point was that any work that is not evil or sinful can bring God glory if we choose to do it with a heart for him. We can apply this phrase especially to the necessary, mundane daily tasks in our lives. Things like laundry and lawn mowing can be done for God’s glory because they bring order and beauty into our family’s life. We can live out our vocation to the full by bringing this goodness into our home for God’s glory. How will you live “ad maiorem Dei gloriam” today?

 

Digging Deeper: Jesus Heals

 

In Jesus’s time, if an “unclean” person touched a clean person, the clean person was rendered unclean as well. This is why people with diseases like leprosy were sent away from the rest of the community. However, Jesus reaches out and touches the man with the skin disease in today’s Gospel. By this action, Jesus is not rendered unclean, but instead heals the uncleanness of the leper! This would be radical to Jesus’s followers. Learn from the example of the leper that Jesus brings  healing—Jesus cannot be hurt by your weakness.

 

Challenge

 

As we begin Lent on Wednesday, please consider signing up for a weekly hour in the Adoration Chapel.

Adoration@StMichaelLivermore.com or leave a note in the envelope in the chapel.

 

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