New Insights on the Gospels

March for Life 2012

Evil triumphs when good men do nothing - Edmund Burke

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Papal Angelus about the Leper who is healed

Dear Reader,

This is from last year, it is the text of the papal angelus but worth reading as we are on our lenten journey

Dear brothers and sisters!

In the Sunday Gospels at this time, the evangelist St. Mark offers a series of miraculous healings by Jesus for our reflection.

Today, we are presented with a singular case, a leper who was cured (cfr Mk 1, 4045) after approaching Jesus and imploring on his knees: "If you wish, you can make me clean".

Moved with pity, Jesus stretched out his hand, touched him, and said to him, "I do will it. Be made clean."

And instantly, the man was healed, and Jesus asked him not to tell anybody, but to present himself to a priest to offer the sacrifice prescribed by Mosaic law.

But the cured leper could not keep silent about it, and proclaimed to everyone what had happened to him.

As a result, the evangelist tells us, even more sick people came to Jesus from everywhere, finally forcing him to stay away from towns in order not to be assailed by crowds.

Jesus told the leper, "Be made clean". According to ancient Jewish law (cfr Lv 13-14), leprosy was considered not just a disease but also the gravest form of 'impurity'.

It was the duty of the priests to diagnose it and declare the sick person unclean, who must then keep apart from the community and live away from inhabited places until any eventual certified healing.

Leprosy therefore constituted a kind of religious and civilian death, and its healing a kind of resurrection. We can see in leprosy a symbol for sin, which is the true impurity of the heart, one able to keep us away from God.

It is not the physical ailment of leprosy, as the old laws saw it, that separates us from him, but sin, the spiritual and moral evil.

That is why the Psalmist exclaims: "Happy the sinner whose fault is removed, whose sin is forgiven" and then, addressing God, "I declared my sin to you; my guilt I did not hide. I said, 'I confess my faults to the LORD', and you took away the guilt of my sin" (Ps 31/32, 1.5).

The sins we commit keep us away from God, and if they are not humbly confessed, with confidence in divine mercy, they can even come to produce the death of the soul.

Thus this miracle [in Mark's Gospel] takes on a strong symbolic value. Jesus, as Isaiah had prophesied, is the Servant of the Lord who "bore our infirmities and endured our sufferings" (cfr Is 53,4).

In his passion, he would become like the leper, made unclean by our sins, separated from God: and all this he would do out of love, in order to obtain reconciliation, forgiveness and salvation for us.

In the Sacrament of Penance, the crucified and resurrected Christ, through his ministers, purifies us with his infinite mercy, restores us to communion with the heavenly Father and with our brothers, makes us a gift of his love, his joy and his peace.

Dear brothers and sisters, let us invoke the Virgin Mary, whom God preserved from every stain of sin, so that she may help us avoid sin and make frequent use of the Sacrament of Confession, the sacrament of forgiveness, which today more than ever must be rediscovered for its value and its importance in our life as Christians.

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