Sunday, February 12, 2012

The deserted places

Lv 13:1-2, 44-46

The Lord said to Moses and Aaron,
"If someone has on his skin a scab or pustule or blotch
which appears to be the sore of leprosy,
he shall be brought to Aaron, the priest,
or to one of the priests among his descendants.
If the man is leprous and unclean,
the priest shall declare him unclean
by reason of the sore on his head.

"The one who bears the sore of leprosy
shall keep his garments rent and his head bare,
and shall muffle his beard;
he shall cry out, 'Unclean, unclean!'
As long as the sore is on him he shall declare himself unclean,
since he is in fact unclean.
He shall dwell apart, making his abode outside the camp."

Mk 1:40-45

A leper came to Jesus and kneeling down begged him and said,
"If you wish, you can make me clean."
Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand, 
touched him, and said to him, 
"I do will it. Be made clean."
The leprosy left him immediately, and he was made clean.
Then, warning the him sternly, he dismissed him at once. 

He said to him, "See that you tell no one anything,
but go, show yourself to the priest 
and offer for your cleansing what Moses prescribed;
that will be proof for them."

The man went away and began to publicize the whole matter.
He spread the report abroad
so that it was impossible for Jesus to enter a town openly.
He remained outside in deserted places,
and people kept coming to him from everywhere.

These were two of the scripture readings from today's mass. They tie together in some obvious ways. The main obvious one is that they both deal with leprosy. But today it struck me that there is something hidden there, a jewel. A shadow of the cross. As our Priest read the Gospel reading today.. I was struck by how wonderful Jesus is.

You see in the first reading we see that the Jewish people didn't have a full understanding of Leprosy. They believed it was sin that caused it. That the person wasn't just unclean and diseased, but he reason they had leprosy in the first place was some sin in their life. They didn't know about bacteria and viruses, but God in his infinite wisdom taught them to help keep from spreading it as best as they could. So what happens in ancient Jewish culture when someone gets leprosy? They are ostracized. They are sent to live by themselves or in a colony of other lepers, until they get better.. if they get better.

Then flash forward to the year 30 or so AD and here we have Jesus Christ, the Messiah. Someone with leprosy, someone who would have been considered a sinner, came to Jesus to be healed. You see first off that Jesus sees the mans faith. After all the man says "If you wish, you can make me clean."  This man didn't ask for healing, he stated a fact. He knew that if it was God's will, it would be done! He knew who Jesus was. And Jesus did it! This was two fold... the person was not only healed, but if sin caused the leprosy.. then his sin was forgiven! Jesus forgave this mans sin, and told him to go to the priest to be declared clean, giving up his thanks to God in a sacrifice.

But the part that caught me today.. was that Jesus was then forced to goutside of town. He was forced into the deserted places. Jesus who had done no wrong, because of his glory and majesty, was instead put in the sinners place. The leper was the one who should have been in the deserted places, unable to come into town.. but Jesus.. the healer.. the King of Kings... shows us in a shadow of things to come, a shadow of his work on the cross.. that Jesus forgives our sins.. and takes our punishment... Just wow! How glorious is our God? Have you praised him today for taking your punishment?

In Christ,