6th Sunday in Ordinary Time - 11th February, 2018

Liturgical Reflection

1 Leviticus 13:1-2, 44-46 1 Corinthians 10:31—11:1 Mark 1: 40-45

“You can make me clean”

The first Reading from Leviticus makes it painfully clear that once declared “unclean” by the priest, a victim with oozing skin infections could only “dwell apart, making his abode outside the camp”, separated from family, friends and the whole community. To have such a disease was also considered a moral evil and therefore sinful.

Against all the Jewish laws about leprosy, the man in today’s Gospel brings himself right to the feet of Jesus, begging for a cure. He is breaking the law coming so close to Jesus and the crowd. But this ostracised, desperate one reaches out to Jesus with utter faith, pleading “if you want to, you can make me clean”. How much those pressing round Jesus must have gasped in horror to see this wretch thrust himself forward at Jesus’ feet! Even worse, Jesus himself, did the unthinkable!


Moved with pity,
Jesus actually
“stretched out his hand
and touched him”.
“I do will it. Be made clean”


Jesus could look beyond the diseased body and see loneliness, rejection, the utter desperation of one who was cut off from family and friends. Through his act of healing and love, it is Jesus who then loses his freedom to move without being mobbed by the crowds ever eager to see “miracles’. Sometimes Jesus even escaped the crowds by teaching them from the safety of a boat.

Ash Wednesday this week launches us into the season of Lent with its twofold challenge:

  • To reflect again on own need for the healing touch of Jesus who forgives and strengthens us 
  • To allow ourselves to be “moved with pity” for the countless needy, homeless, displaced persons and refugees in our society, all yearning for a place to call home.

So many desperate voices in our world cry out for acceptance, for welcoming faces who do not reject or despise them, as though they were ’lepers’.

  • Who do I see as those regarded as ‘lepers’ in Australian society today? 
  • Are there some people we tend to hold at a distance?

Let us do as Jesus did!

Denise Sullivan op