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6th Sunday of Ordinary Time - Year B - Fr John's Homilies

  1. A leper approaches Jesus. He was an excluded, impure! He was to be sent away from human society. Anyone who came close to him would also be impure; sent out of the community.

 

  1. But the leper had much courage. He broke the rules of religion so as to approach Jesus. He says: If you are willing, you can cleanse me! Or: “There is no need for you to touch me! If you are just willing that is enough to heal me!

 

  1. This sentence reveals to evils:

1) the evil of the disease called leprosy that made him impure;

2) the evil of solitude to which he was condemned by society and by religion.

 

  1. Deeply compassionate, Jesus heals both evils; the evil of solitude, he touches the leper. It is as though he said to him: "For me you are not an excluded. I welcome you as a brother!"

 

  1. Secondly, he heals the disease called leprosy saying: I am willing. Be cleansed! In order to come into contact with Jesus, the leper had broken the rules of the law.
  1. For Jesus to be able to help this excluded one and thus reveal a new face of God, he broke the laws of his religion and touches the leper. In those days, anyone who touched a leper became impure in the sight of the religious authorities and before the law of that time.

 

  1. Not only does Jesus heal, but he wills that the healed person be able to live with others. Reinstating a person to society. In those days, for a leper to be received within the community, he or she had to have a declaration of healing from a priest.

 

  1. Thus it was written in the law concerning the purification of a leper. This still happens today. The sick person leaves hospital with a letter signed by the doctor of a particular section. Jesus obliges the leper to get the document from the competent authority so that he may be reinstated into normal society. He is thus obliging the authorities to confirm that the man had been healed.

 

  1. Jesus had forbidden the leper from speaking of his healing. But the leper did speak. The leper started freely proclaiming and telling the story everywhere, so that Jesus could no longer go openly into any town, but stayed away in desert places.

 

  1. Why did Jesus stay away in desert places? Jesus had touched the leper. Thus, according to law in those days, now he was impure and had to live away from all. He could not enter any city.

 

  1. But Mark implies that people were able to see beyond the official rules, because people from all around kept coming to him! A complete turn over!

 

  1. The double news that Mark conveys to the communities of his time and to all of us is:
  2. that proclaiming the Good News means witnessing to the concrete experience that one has of Jesus. What does the leper proclaim? He proclaims to others the good that Jesus did to him. That’s all!
  3. And it is precisely this witness that drives others to accept the Good News of God that Jesus proclaims. Anyone who has no experience of Jesus will have little to proclaim to others.
  4. To take the Good News to others one need not fear breaking religious rules that are contrary to God’s plan and that render communication, dialogue and a life of love difficult. Even if such an attitude may create difficulties for people as it did for Jesus!

 

  1. A double slavery marked the situation of people at the time of Jesus:
  2. the slavery of the official religion, upheld by the religious authorities of the time,
  3. and the slavery of Herod’s politics, upheld by the Roman Empire and supported by the whole organized system of exploitation and repression.
  4. Because of all this, many of the people were excluded by religion and by society. The contrary, therefore, of the fraternity that God means for all! And it is precisely in this context that Jesus begins to carry out his mission of proclaiming the Good News of God.

 

  1. Today's Gospel is part of a wider literary unity. Mark brings together eight activities of Jesus to describe his mission of proclamation of the Good News and to describe how the mission of the community should be.

 

  1. This is the same mission that Jesus received from the Father. Mark puts together these episodes, which were passed on orally in the communities, and links them together like old bricks in a new wall.

 

  1. These eight episodes are eight criteria that serve the community to revise and check whether they are carrying out their mission well. Let us see:

 

  1. Creating community. The first thing that Jesus does is to call people to follow him. A fundamental task of mission is to gather people around Jesus in order to create community. The gathering of the clans is the presence of the Kingdom of God.

 

  1. Creating a critical conscience. The first thing that people see is the difference between the teaching of Jesus and that of the Scribes. Part of mission is to create a critical conscience in people, even in the face of the official religion.

 

  1. Fighting the power of evil. Part of mission is fighting the power of evil that destroys life and alienates people from themselves; destroying our intrinsic human dignity.

 

  1. Restoring life through service. Jesus heals Peter’s mother-in-law, and she gets up and begins to serve. Part of mission is the care of the sick so that they may be able to get up and once more serve others.

 

  1. Welcoming the marginalized. After the Sabbath, people bring to Jesus the sick that he may heal them, and, by laying his hands, he heals them all. Part of mission is to welcome the marginalized.

             

  1. Staying united with the Father through prayer. After a day of labour that extends far into the night, Jesus gets up quickly so that he may pray in a deserted place. Part of mission is staying united with the source of the Good News; that is the Father, through prayer.

 

  1. Keeping up an awareness of mission. The disciples were happy with the results and wanted Jesus to return. But he carried on with his journey. Part of mission is not to be content with results, but to keep alive an awareness of mission which has now been entrusted to us..

 

  1. Reinstating the marginalized into human society. Jesus heals a leper and asks him to present himself to a priest so that he may be declared healed and may be able to live among people. Part of mission is reinstating the excluded to human society.

 

  1. These eight points so well chosen by Mark, indicate the purpose of the mission of Jesus: “I came that all may have life, and may have it abundantly!” These same eight points may serve to evaluate our own community.

 

  1. Thus we can see how Mark built up his Gospel. A beautiful structure that keeps in mind two things at once:
  2. it informs people of what Jesus did and taught;

 

  1. and it forms the community and people to the mission of proclaimers of the Good News of God.