Pastor's Desk: 6th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Welcome everyone; looking at the Readings of our Mass today, we see that leprosy is common to the First and Gospel Readings. In the First Reading from the Book of Leviticus, God tells Moses and Aaron how to recognise the disease. For people of that time Leprosy caused absolute panic. It was contagious and so at the first sign of it breaking out on a person’s body, they were treated as outcasts. They left the family home, their livelihood and their community. Their lives would never be the same again. To warn of their condition they also must shout out, “Unclean, unclean”, to give the healthy a chance to avoid coming into contact with them. It must have been a soul destroying experience. Of course, medical knowledge was not so widespread then so people with psoriasis, bad acne, and other skin ailments were all treated as lepers. Any kind of blemish was enough to end life as you knew it.
Once again then, we see Jesus break the social norms of His day by allowing Himself have encounters with these social outcasts. The man in the Gospel has faith that Jesus can cure him and is bold enough to ask Jesus to heal him. What is even more shocking is that Jesus touches the man as he cures him. Jesus then tells him not to tell anyone! He no longer has to live outside of the town, he can resume his life with his family; life has been given back to him again. There is no way this is going to be kept quiet.
But we don’t even need illness as an excuse to cast people aside; family rows or imagined slights are enough for many today to justify never speaking to someone again. Jesus in the Gospel is saying there is no one I will not reach out to. Can we say the same?
This weekend the second collection at all Masses is in support of ACCORD, the diocesan agency for marriage and the family. The Archbishop’s letter provides more information on ACCORD’s work.