Monday, February 16, 2015

15 February 2015 -- Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

First Reading:
Leviticus 13-:1-2, 45-46
Second Reading:
1 Corinthians 10:31-11:1
Mark 1:40-45

Today's first reading from Leviticus sets the stage for today's gospel. It introduces us to what would be better translated as a “scale disease.” Scale disease includes a variety of conditions where the skin becomes scaly, for example, psoriasis. It is not the disease we know as leprosy today. Unlike leprosy, full recovery from scale diseases was possible. Still, Leviticus says one suffering from scale disease must live alone, separated from the community— and is unclean.

Today's Gospel tells us that Jesus ignores the cleanliness laws, takes pity on the man with scale disease, and touches him—and cures him. Jesus shows his respect for the Law by sending the healed man to the priest but he is also stepping on the priests' toes. According to the Law, by touching the man, Jesus renders himself ritually unclean yet he has the audacity to heal an unclean person “without a licence” so to speak.1

Jesus knew his actions would put him in disfavour with the religious authorities. But he also knew that by healing this man's physical affliction, he was also healing the man's isolation and estrangement from his family and community. Because of the man's overwhelming happiness at being cured and re-integrated into his community, he cannot help but spread the good news.

After curing the man, Jesus told him not to tell anyone. This literary and theological motif, found throughout Mark's Gospel, is called, “the messianic secret.” To grasp why the Gospel writer may have used this device, we have to understand that the Jews of that time thought the Messiah would be a political and military hero, who would free Israel from the Romans. But Jesus didn't come to free the Jews from the Romans but to teach people then and now how to live in right relationships.

By writing that Jesus asks others to keep quiet, Mark may have sought to convey Jesus' desire to teach people not to expect a military or political leader, but a spiritual one.2 Also Mark was writing to and for his Christian community. This motif could be used to counteract the glory-seeking members of his community. By using the "messianic secret" motif, Mark says in effect: "Do not concentrate on the glory and the power; remember rather the serving, the suffering and the dying of our Messiah; and remember that this serving, suffering and dying is God's way for us as well.”3

In the second reading, Paul tells us in effect, that we are to imitate Christ. Paul is advising us that we are not to cause harm to any person because of their ethnicity or religion; that we, like Christ, are to be of service to others. Like Jesus in today's gospel, we do this not for our own self-aggrandizement but so that we contribute to the well-being of others.

As followers of Christ, we will experience our own crosses but, if we are willing, our triune God always wills to make us whole. We imitate Jesus when we contribute to global wellness. Our responsibility is to spread the good news, not so much by our words, but in the way we live our lives; by our 'way of being' in the world. Whether we seek wholeness for ourselves or for another, our reward is community in the physical sense and in the spiritual sense. These are the thoughts I gleaned from today's readings.

Please reflect a moment, then, please share your thoughts?

1Marcus, Joel. Mark 1-8: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary. New Haven, Conn: Yale University Press, 2010, p. 210.
3Martin, Raymond. 1984. "The messianic secret in Mark." Currents In Theology And Mission 11, no. 6: 350-352.

1 comment:

Michael said...

Romans 16, Paul commends women who were in ministry, however women in your "womenpriests" group are counted as the women of Ephesus and Corinth, not permitted to teach/preach or be pastors! You liberals are heretical because of your views on marriage.