Mark 1:40-45 The Cleansing of a Leper

“It is hard for us today to imagine the awful condition of the leper in New Testament times. He was considered legally dead. But, worse, he was considered morally unclean. Forbidden to enter any walled city—lashed thirty-nine times if he did—he wandered, muffled to the eyes, crying ‘Unclean!’

“Under Jewish law, no one could greet him. Under the law, no one could approach within six feet of the leper—one hundred feet if the wind came from his direction. Any building he entered was considered defiled and had to be purified. The common practice was to throw stones at or run and hide from any leper who approached.

“Such was the man who came to Jesus. What compassion and greatness he must have sensed in the Master to break the law in this manner. And what was the response? Against all law and tradition, Jesus reached out and touched the leper and by His touch cleansed him of his filthiness. By His touch, to save His brother, Jesus descended lower than any man—exactly as He did, later, to save each of us.

“We are that leper, each of us unclean in his own way, each of us crying, ‘If thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.’ Each of us trusts that because of His infinite love, we will receive His touch.” (William B. Smart, Messages for a Happier Life: Inspiring Essays from the Church News [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1989], 136.)

+ + + + + + +

Reflection: Be made clean. The Jews consider leprosy as a curse from God, a punishment for serious sins. Lepers are numbered among the living dead. They are social outcasts, an embarrassment to their families and to the community.

The Book of Leviticus prescribes that one who bears the sore of leprosy shall keep his garments rent and his head bare, and shall muffle his beard; he shall cry out, “Unclean, unclean!” He shall dwell apart, making his abode outside the camp (Lv 13:45-46). Lepers are forbidden to enter the city or the Temple. No one is to speak or mingle with them. Anyone who touches a leper is considered unclean and impure, prohibited from participating in any Temple sacrifice and worship.

Jesus does exactly the opposite: he interacts with a leper. He stretches out his hand, touches the leper, and speaks with him. His actions show his compassion and love for the leper. Jesus heals the leper so he may be reinstated into the community and restored in his dignity as a child of God.

What Jesus sees in us are not our mistakes, failures, or sins but our contrition and desire to be healed and made whole. Jesus wants that our hearts be cleansed from bitterness, our eyes from malice, our minds from revenge, our lips from lies, our hands from hurting, and our lives from selfishness and slavery to sin. Jesus is telling us now, “I do will it. Be made clean.”

Sympathy is not enough; compassion is expressed in good deeds.

http://graceandspace.org/welcome/home/365-days-with-the-lord/1254-the-cleansing-of-a-leper.html

Advertisements
  1. Leave a comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: