6th Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)

Gospel Mk 1: 40-45

A leper came to Jesus and kneeling down begged him and said, “If you wish, you can make me clean.” Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand, touched him, and said to him, “I do will it. Be made clean.” The leprosy left him immediately, and he was made clean. Then, warning him sternly, he dismissed him at once.  He said to him, “See that you tell no one anything, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer for your cleansing what Moses prescribed; that will be proof for them.” The man went away and began to publicize the whole matter. He spread the report abroad so that it was impossible for Jesus to enter a town openly. He remained outside in deserted places, and people kept coming to him from everywhere.

Ebanjelioa Markos 1: 40-45

40 Legendun bat etorri zitzaion erreguka, eta belauniko esan zion: –Nahi baduzu, garbi nazakezu. 41 Errukiturik, Jesusek eskua luzatu eta ukitu egin zuen, esanez: –Nahi dut, izan zaitez garbi. 42 Berehala alde egin zion legenak, eta garbi gelditu zen. 43 Jesusek bidali egin zuen, zorrotz aginduz: 44 –Kontuz gero! Ez esan inori ezer. Zoaz, hala ere, azaldu apaizarengana eta eskaini garbikuntzaren ordainez Moisesek agindutakoa, ezaugarri izan dezaten. 45 Hura, ordea, irten orduko, gertatu berria goraki hots egiten eta zabaltzen hasi zen. Eta harrezkero, ezin zen Jesus inongo herritan agerian sartu, eta kanpoan gelditzen zen, bazterretan. Hala ere, edonondik zetorkion jendea.

Compassion heals

At the beginning of his Gospel, Mark presents Jesus healing the sick, freeing people from demons, and purifying lepers. This activity of Jesus as written by Mark has been called “the spring of Galilee.” This refers to stories that are not to be read superficially, as the evangelist has written them to emphasize the depth of the saving action of Jesus and his profound challenge to everyone.

One of the most significant of these stories is “the cleansing of the leper” because Jesus not only cures leprosy, but everything that disease meant in those times. Observe that the text does not speak of “healing,” but of “purification” “cleansing” and it emphasizes Jesus’ desire to see him integrated in social life.

It is not easy for us today to grasp the situation of a leper in that Jewish society. He was certainly a patient suffering from a cruel disease classified medically only in 1870. But for the people of his time he also was a man “punished” by God because leprosy was considered to be the a result of serious personal sins (such as, licentious life, murder, and mockery of religion). Having become a source of danger and pollution for the rest of the people, the leper was excluded from social life and forced away from home, society, and religious activity. For a leper, this situation did not have a turning back.

For this reason, Mark’s story is dramatic. A leper dares, in spite of all, to approach Jesus who was alone (the disciples seem to have run quickly away). The man kneeling on the ground, invoked with faith: “If you want, you can make me clean.” What will be the reaction of Jesus, the man inhabited by the unfathomable love of God?

The evangelist has chosen the wording very carefully: “Jesus was moved with compassion, extended his hand and touched him as He uttered “I do will it: Be made clean.” Jesus did not only let the leper get closer, but He himself touched him and expressed immediately His willingness to clean him.

With his gesture, Jesus brings a prophetic, a revolutionary action never seen before. Jesus reveals that God does not use diseases just to punish us. Moreover, Jesus frees that man from isolation and exclusion; Jesus also dismantles the mechanism of prejudice and discrimination in society, breaks down the barriers and walls that we humans have built up. Finally, Jesus teaches us all that the right path to move on goes along love, inclusion, and fraternal coexistence.

All the excluded and stigmatized, all those classified by society or churches, or those who have just come out of any kind of “closet” must rejoice with the Good News of Jesus Christ: When you do not find a worthy or welcoming place among men, know that Jesus is moved with compassion and touches you. When nobody seem to understand you, Jesus does; when nobody seem to respect you, Jesus welcomes you: when other exclude you, Jesus reaches out and wraps you with his blessing.

Errukiak osatzen gaitu.