SERMON OF THE WEEK
February� 17, 2013
Next Sunday is the second Sunday of the Great Lent. On this day, Jesus heals a man with leprosy. This is Jesus' second miracle. (The first one being, turning water into wine at a wedding�in Cana).
Sunday's�gospel reading is from Luke 5:12-16.
Topic: "Jesus heals a man with leprosy."
Gospel Reading: (Luke 5:12-16)"12 While Jesus was in one of the towns, a man came along who was covered with leprosy.[a] When he saw Jesus, he fell with his face to the ground and begged him, Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.
13 Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. I am willing,� he said. Be clean!� And immediately the leprosy left him.
14 Then Jesus ordered him, Don't tell anyone, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer the sacrifices that Moses commanded for your cleansing, as a testimony to them.
15 Yet the news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of sicknesses.
16. But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places�and prayed.
In the gospel, we read about a story of how Jesus made an incredible difference in a man's life.
While Jesus was in one of the towns, a man came along who was covered with leprosy. Leprosy is a form of skin disease with symptoms of white patches of running sores all over the body and is a serious illness. It made infected persons ceremonially unclean and the disease could be transmitted to others who come in contact with the infected. Because of this, leprosers were isolated from the rest of the community so that other members would not become contaminated.
When no one would help, there was Jesus who was not concerned with what other people may think or do. Jesus didn't discriminate anyone infested with this disease. For Jesus, the outside appearance didn't make one unclean, rather what is in one's heart determined his standing with God. Therefore, Jesus did not hesitate to touch the leper he came in contact with.
When the man with leprosy saw Jesus, he fell with his face down to the ground and begged Jesus, "Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean." Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man and said, "Yes, I am willing, be clean." And immediately the leprosy left the man. When Jesus touched, he was revived. He became active again. He was restored from the depressed state. He was given life both physically and spiritually. Afterwards, Jesus sent the man to the religious authorities to show himself what the Son of Man has done in order to testify the miracle power of God.
After the healing, news about the healing abounded all the more. Besides the multitudes who came to be healed, the Scribes and Pharisees came from Jerusalem, Galilee, and Judea. Jesus' purpose of healing was to teach the people of Israel about his divine authority.
Let's not forget that Jesus was preaching the good news of Israel's salvation and the Kingdom of God. No healing had� taken place in Israel since Elijah. Nothing like this had ever been witnessed in Israel since that time. Jesus was showing his diving power and authority which� the Scribes and Pharisees questioned. It was the thing they questioned about Jesus.
The leprous man went to Jesus empty handed. He had nothing to offer, no ability to change his situation, lonely and isolated, full of shame and sickness. But he did have faith that Jesus could rid him of his disease and change his life for ever.
What relevance does the story of the leper have today? What does it tell us? Yes, Jesus was fully aware of the suffering of the man. Jesus took time to see the societal outcast as a human being. Just as Jesus did, we have also a duty to develop a positive attitude towards sick people. In our high-tech age, health care workers including doctors, nurses, technicians and others in the system must look into each patients face and see the human being behind the disease. When there is intimate contact, the potential exists for meaningful healing. At that moment of naked truth, the Kingdom of God will become present. Our sacraments are meeting places where the human beings taste the unlimited love of God. Our approach must be a source of unlimited love and hope for everyone who is being served in sickness.
When Jesus reached out and touched the leper, he challenged the laws of his times. The leper begged him, "If you choose, you can make me clean." Jesus, in effect, was challenging the system that isolates and excludes sick people. His action tells us that in the quest to bring about the Kingdom of God, we must not be afraid to challenge the status quo. We must be willing to call attention to injustices and demand change.
In today's world, there are multitudes of people who suffer from life threatening illness and are unable to seek medical help due to economic reasons. The system fails to protect the needy. Most social activists and religious leaders see the need for a comprehensive health care program guaranteed by the government as�an answer for the millions of uninsured who can't afford a doctor.They think this to be viewed a societal responsibility, not as�a socialistic agenda. It is to ensure the basic rights and�the need�to protect people's health.�One shouldn't�attach politics onto an humanitarian issue.
Prepared by: Rev. Dr. V Kurian Thomas, Valiyaparambil