6th Sunday of the Year (14th Feb, 2021)
Lv 13:1-2,44-46; 1 Cor 10: 31-11:1; Mk 1: 40-45
by Fr. Anup Ranjan Minj S.J.
“If you want to, you can cure me.”
Purity of soul which comes not primarily from man but from God is the dominant theme of today’s readings. Such purity symbolized by freedom from leprosy in today’s first reading and the gospel. We all are called to get rid of all that is not Godlike – sin.
The first reading from Leviticus provides a good background to the gospel. The leprosy referred to is not only what is today termed as Hansen’s disease, but also to other skin infections. Indeed, the whole 13th chapter of Leviticus stipulates how such so called lepers should be treated. More than hygienic concerns, lepers are to be ostracized because they lack the bodily integrity necessary for the worship of Yahweh. Thus, only after examination and certification by priests could lepers re-enter the community. Till such time, they were to be segregated from society and shout, “unclean! Unclean!”
The prayer of the leper in today’s gospel: “If you want to, you can cure me.” The leper shows complete faith and magnificent confidence in faith in Jesus. The leper, one ostracized from the society therefore an outcast makes a magnificent prayer “If you want to, you can cure me.” We know Mosaic Law from the first reading about lepers and thus scene of meeting of leper to Jesus is significant. Furthermore, Jesus’ answer: “Of course I want to, be cured.” The leprosy left him at once and he was cured. Jesus makes the leper clean and this is the fruit of confidence in faith shown by leper. Jesus too makes us clean. With Jesus in our midst, no one remain unclean, impure and in exile from society. St. Augustine a great sinner could be purified as he prayed leper’s prayer – “If you want to, you can cure me” and became a saint. As a youth he embraced the world and its impurities, which all but enslaved him. Jesus helped him turn his embrace to all that is pure, to Godliness and eternal life.
St. Paul in today’s second reading reminds us that unless we take Christ for our model in this world and follow him, we are not living. Thus, we can say that a life not oriented towards Christ is only a process of deterioration, a spiritual leprosy and eventually leads to our destruction. However, all people are saved with Christ. Christ’s path is the only one that leads to health and eternal life. All we need to find this way to pray as the leper prayed for the health that Jesus alone can give.
Over the centuries, Christ awaits us still with the words – “Of course I want to, be cured.” We need to be humble in our prayer like leper to experience Christ and His cleansing power in our life. Amen.