6th Sunday of Ordinary time Year B, 2018. A realhomilie from Fr Kevin Walsh, Sydney Australia. ‘Lord, if you want to, you can make me clean.’
In today’s gospel, we have Jesus healing a leper. It is an extraordinary prayer of simple faith and, in healing him; Jesus touched him, which was an extraordinary expression of love, and something that, incidentally, was totally against the law!
Let’s have a closer look at this evergreen story, because it has direct implications for us today.
The man had leprosy. What was he to do? In this case, he went straight to Jesus, with a very simple uncomplicated prayer. ‘Lord, if you want to, you can make me clean.’ No long speeches, no promises about a reformed lifestyle, and no pronouncement to Jesus of unworthiness. It was one of those precious moments of grace, when the truth was evident at that moment. The man was powerless, and he saw with the eyes of growing faith, that the healing hand of God was in Jesus. This was the basis for the miracle, as it is for all miracles in the Scriptures, and in our own lives.
Notice that Jesus touched him. It’s almost impossible for us to appreciate what that meant. I think that Fr.Varillon in his Book titled:- La parole est mon Royaume, ( Paris: Centurion, 1986) 69-70 delves into the depth of this action and the profound meaning of Our Lord’s compassion for this man, and for us, ‘Jesus’ compassion is not skin-deep; it is an upheaval of the depths of his being. There is no true compassion without passion: those who are compassionate really suffer in their own persons. Compassion is a Communion in suffering. It is impossible for the Father to remain impassive when the children suffer – and among them the eternal Son made a human being. The Father’s suffering is a great mystery, and when we want to speak about it, we stammer miserably. However, it is urgent to reject from our mind the idea that the Father, because of the perfection of his nature, looks from afar on human suffering without himself being painfully involved and wounded…… The cure of the Leper orients my meditation in this direction. I cannot believe that Jesus does not suffer as much as the poor sick man and that the Father does not suffer as much as the Son.’ Lepers were outcasts and untouchable. With the medical science at our fingertips, most of the sores, blemishes or spots were not Leprosy. Nowadays Calamine Lotion, or Savlon or some other cream would bring about healing. But there was something else within the corporate mind of our ancestors in faith, which brought back a terrible memory, and went right back to the time when the Hebrew people were freed from slavery in Egypt. One of the ten Plagues consisted of terrible and unsightly skin boils, so that was generally in the mind of our ancestors in faith. It was seen as a punishment. Now, notice that Jesus stretched out his hand within the moment of healing……this was seen by the early Christian community and for us today as a Sacrament action….the laying on of hands….the sign of the empowerment of the Holy Spirit. However, getting back to the miracle, to touch a leper made the other person unclean and untouchable as well. It would be absolutely unthinkable for a religious Jew to come next to or even near a leper, much less touch one. The law was totally lacking love and compassion when it came to the obligations of cleanliness that it imposed on society at that time. There is no doubt that Jesus saw something totally different from everyone else when he looked at the leper, and he was urged by the Holy Spirit to reach out to this person who lived on the fringe of society, within a lonely world which the law imposed on such people. Jesus broke that law, and enabled him to be free!
The Gospel story causes us to pause in more ways than one: Who are the Lepers in our society today? How do we respond or react to them? Are some of our attitudes a bit like the prescriptions in the first reading? This certainly is food for thought for me, and maybe for you too. Perhaps it might be a good idea to really PAUSE at this point of the realhomilie and reflect upon this….then quietly move onto the next section
‘Lord, if you want to, you can make ME clean.’ What a simple prayer! Jesus’ answer was instant ‘Of course I want to’. That is true right here, right now. ‘Lord, I know that you want to heal ME, to forgive ME, to free ME.’ I ask that you do that right now. Prayer is really easy if we keep it simple. The facts are very clear, and the facts are friendly. In the sight of God, I am who I am, and Jesus is who he is. When I meet Jesus, and understand my place before Him, miracles can be expected. If I were to pause for a few minutes right now, what would my prayer be?
OUR FAMILY PRAYER TIME………
Leader: We prayerfully stretch out our hearts and hands to the Lord who stretched out his hand to touch and heal a leper.
For our Holy Father the Pope and for all leader-servants of the Church that they stretch out their hearts and hands to heal discrimination and injustice, we pray to the Lord: Lord, graciously hear us.
For our civic leaders that they stretch out their hearts and hands to help the poor, the homeless, the hungry and the victims of war, we pray to the Lord: Lord, graciously hear us.
For all of us here today, that we stretch out our hearts and hands to help those who need our spiritual and material assistance, we pray to the Lord: Lord, graciously hear us.
For the people of this faith community that we stretch out our hearts and hands and invite fallen-away Catholics to return to the healing home of the Church we pray to the Lord: Lord, graciously hear us.
For those who care for the ill, the elderly, and the dying, that they continue to stretch out their hearts and hands to heal and comfort their patients, we pray to the Lord: Lord, graciously hear us.
For all who have died, including N. and N., that they be welcomed to glory and embraced by the stretched-out heart and hands of our loving God, we pray to the Lord: Lord, graciously hear us.
Let’s think back over the past week, and what we have seen on the T.V News, Breaking News on our Mobile Phones and iPad….who are some of the people in our Global village or need our prayers? You might like to share some of these…………., we pray to the Lord: Lord, graciously hear us.
Leader: Merciful, loving God, we ask you to grant these prayers we make through Christ our Lord. Amen.