6th Sunday in Ordinary Time
By: Jean-Francky Guerrier, SJ
Today’s Gospel (Mark 1: 40-45) focuses on the dimension of suffering in human life and Jesus’ attitude towards it. In the Jewish tradition, a person with leprosy, according to the Law, was not supposed to approach other people. But as Mark tells us, “a man with leprosy came to Jesus begging him, and kneeling said to Jesus, “If you choose, you can make me clean.” (Mk 1:40). Jesus touches and heals him.
For more than one year now, we have been struggling with the Covid-19 pandemic, which has brought us up against our limits and weaknesses. Some people put all their efforts to help us overcome this global pandemic. We appreciate the sacrifices of nurses, doctors, those who work in hospitals, pharmacies and stores, all frontline workers, as Jesus, risking their own lives to save ours. Thanks to our scientists, we have been able to get vaccines which is a very important step in the process of stopping the pandemic. All these actions give hope because they are the fruits of an unconditional love. A love that promotes good as the main motive of all actions. Jesus shows this same love in today’s Gospel by touching the untouchable. He is not afraid of being infected by the man with leprosy, but he simply wants to heal him so that the man can return to a normal life. Jesus puts his life at risk of being infected in order to save the life of this man who is suffering deeply. This is an example of an unconditional love.
As Christians, our faith is rooted in Jesus’ unconditional love for us. Jesus loves us, listens to us and responds to our calls. He knows our pain and suffering because he has experienced them through his passion and death on the cross. By coming to the world, Jesus became aware of our afflictions. The four Gospels, Matthew (8:16; 15:30; 21:14), Mark (6:56), Luke (4:40; 9:11), and John (9:14), tell us that during his ministry, the sick people were brought to Jesus from everywhere. Thus, a sort of hospital for the sick was formed around him. No one felt excluded from the mercy of Christ that gives life. All the sick people, one after another, once healed, returned to their homes, announcing with jubilation the miracles of Jesus’ power. For example, Luc tells us that: “While the sun was setting, all those who had any who were sick with various diseases brought them to Him; and laying His hands on each one of them, He was healing them.” (Lc. 4:40). Jesus has the power not only to heal physically, but also spiritually so that we can spread the good news of salvation.
I can imagine all the difficulties the man with leprosy had to endure before finally getting a solution to his illness. He knew exclusion, rejection and humiliation in that Jewish society. All this provoked anger. However, he had faith. He knew that Jesus could change his life and heal him. He knew very well that Jesus’ unconditional love for him surpasses all laws and principles. Therefore, he allowed himself to be contaminated by the same love and went out to proclaim that wonderful news freely. He was healed physically and spiritually.
Brothers and sisters, today’s World Marriage Sunday, we are also called to be contaminated by Jesus’ unconditional love for us. Let us promote a genuine love in our families, between friends and all the faithful. An authentic love that includes, heals, embraces and forgives.