Cusp-a point of transition, as from one historical period to the next;
the borders between the twelve astrological signs.
You are considered to be "on the cusp" if you were born
within a day or two of the beginning or end of any sign.

The Rocky Mountains, Lander's Peak, 1863; Albert Bierstadt

14 February 2018

Homily for The Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time B, February 11, 2018

The Sixth Sunday, in Ordinary Time B, February 11, 2018

Jesus cleansing a leper, medieval mosaic from the Monreale Cathedral, Palermo, Sicily
“Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.” Paul speaks those words to move the Corinthians to reform their lives as followers of Christ. In a meme I saw on Facebook recently I read: We aren’t called to be like other Christians; we are called to be like Christ. That is the challenge because to follow Christ always means to step beyond the bounds of convention. If it were not so Jesus would never have been condemned to die on the cross.
In the first reading from Leviticus we see what the convention was. "If someone has on his skin a scab or pustule or blotch which appears to be the sore of leprosy, the priest shall declare him unclean by reason of the sore on his head.
The one who bears the sore of leprosy shall cry out, 'Unclean, unclean!' [and]…He shall dwell apart, making his abode outside the camp." What the Hebrews of the time of Moses knew about leprosy is not certain, but what contagious skin diseases could do was potentially deadly to a band of nomads. These restrictions carried far beyond the wandering in the desert up to the time of Jesus.
In the gospel, we hear that a leper came to Jesus and kneeling down begged him and said, "If you wish, you can make me clean." In approaching Jesus in the manner he does, the man is committing a terrible social blunder and he may be breaking the law too! In the face of all this, Jesus is not repulsed or shocked; he is “moved with pity.” Just three words, but they tell us so much. Jesus’ remarkable answer: “I do want to.” In an extraordinary move, Jesus stretches out his hand and touches the man. As noted, the ancients thought that leprosy was communicable, and at the very least disgusting. But Jesus touched him with care and said, “Be made clean.” Our spiritual life consists of being “made clean,” no matter how disgusting our failings may be. We must receive Jesus’ touch, especially his touch upon our souls (Foley).
The law made lepers outcasts; but, even without the law, nobody wanted to touch a leper. The leper healed by Jesus must have lived for a long time without the touch of another human being.
How welcome the touch of Jesus must have been to that leper! And how overjoyed the leper must have been when he found himself healed! (Stump)
What is of much greater import in Jesus’ behavior is that he touched the man. While touching is common in this culture, touching a leper is not… By touching the “leper” Jesus challenges the bounds of his culture’s judgment. In Jesus’ view, the “leper” does not pollute, and with his touch he restores the leper to full membership in God’s community, to solidarity in human fellowship. (Pilch)
Who are the lepers, the outcasts in our society today? Who do we know who needs a healing touch, or to be brought into society, out of its margins?
In the Eucharist, before we receive the Body of Christ we say, “O, Lord, I am not worthy that you should come under my roof , but only say the word, and my soul shall be healed.” Then, with the touch of Christ, we too are healed.  When we leave the liturgy we are meant to take Christ’s healing touch out into the world that we live in, making it one with Christ.
As Paul says, “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.”

No comments: