Homily Sixth Sunday Year B Jesus heals us from sin

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Homily Sixth Sunday Year B

Reading 1: Both the first reading and the Gospel talk about leprosy. In those days leprosy was a highly contagious disease. Because of lack of medical knowledge, they did not know how a person got leprosy, nor how it was communicated. To protect his people from destruction by disease, the Lord stipulated certain restrictions.  One was to isolate the leper from all contact with others. Those afflicted had to warn others of their disease and remain in isolation. We do this today with the present flu epidemic.
Further, if anyone touched a leper, that person became ritually unclean and needed to go through certain purification rites.

Today, leprosy is treatable and under control. But what are we doing with spiritual leprosy, sin.  Sin makes us unclean. It separates us from the Lord and thus from one another. It is amazing how we are more concern about physical diseases such as cancer and the flu epidemic than we are about the spiritual leprosy or cancer of sin. We go to the extremes to eradicate every cell of cancer to extend our human life. But what do we do to eradicate the spiritual leprosy of sin, so that we can live eternally with God?  Physical disease can end our physical existence, but sin could end our eternal existence.

Where leprosy today is contained and curable, the spiritual leprosy is destroying the lives of hundreds of thousands of people throughout the world. Do we have a spiritual horror of this type of leprosy?

Lent is a time to deal with the leprosy of sin. Not to isolate ourselves from others, but to isolate ourselves from sin and its consequences. All of us are sinners, but none of us would go around ringing a bell, letting them know of our spiritual leprosy.

Gospel:  The first thing we heard was that a leper approached Jesus, which was unacceptable. He was risking rejection.  Jesus does the unthinkable and that which is ritually prohibitive. He touches a leper directly. He risked ritual uncleanliness in order to heal the man, to reconcile and restore the man back to the community.  Jesus was giving God glory by bringing healing and restoration to the leper.

When we are in sin, we need to approach Jesus in the Sacrament of Reconciliation so that he can touch us with the grace of absolution and forgiveness, healing us from what separates us from God.

There is a second focus. The man is told not witness to others what Jesus did.  Reason? Jesus had not died and risen. People would focus on part of his mission but not the full reason of his coming, namely, to be Savior and Lord.  The man, instead, is told to validate his healing by following the ritually prescribed validation process of having the priest confirm freedom from leprosy.

Instead, the man did the natural thing. In his excitement of being healed he told everyone what Jesus had done for him. As a result Jesus could not go about freely without drawing attention to himself, as more people came for healing. In this symbolic action, Jesus indicted that to make us whole, to save us from the leprosy of sin, he would become sin for us and give his life that we may have life. Jesus had to isolate himself from the community because he healed a leper.

Reading 2: Paul tells us: “Whatever you do, do for the glory of God….Avoid giving offense but seek the good of others for their salvation.”  In another Letter, Paul said: “Whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it in the name of the Lord, giving thanks to the Father through Jesus.” Either of these sayings could be our Lenten motto: simple but difficult to achieve, transforming but stretching. What if we made a conscious intention and be attentive, to live this way, would our life be different?

There is a connection between the Second Reading and the Gospel. With the weak Paul make himself weak in order to draw all to God. Jesus saw beyond the leprosy to the person himself. The man had faith that Jesus could heal him. He knew he was unworthy even to approach Jesus, but he was desperate. Do we have the same faith that Jesus can heal us from our spiritual leprosy? What are we willing to risk?

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