January 11, 2018

Jan. 11

January 11, 2018:  Thursday, 1st week, Ordinary Time

  • 'Wish bone' tie bar:  "If you wish, you can make me clean" (gospel)
  • 'Doctor office' tie:  Jesus healed the leper (gospel)
  • 'Boundless mercy' button:  "Redeem us, Lord, because of your mercy" (psalm)
  • 'Hand' tie pin:  Jesus stretched out his hand (gospel)
  • Green shirt:  Ordinary Time season

  • 1 Sm 4:1-11  The Philistines defeated Israel in battle.  Israel's elders asked, “Why did the Lord allow this?  Let's fetch the ark of the Lord that it may save us.”  They brought the ark, and when it arrived, all Israel shouted.  When the Philistines heard the shouting and learned the ark had come, they were afraid:  “Gods have come to them.  Woe to us!  Who can deliver us from these gods that struck the Egyptians with plagues?  Take courage or else you'll become the Hebrews' slaves”  They defeated Israel, killed 30,000, and captured the ark.
  • Ps 44:10-11, 14-15, 24-25  "Redeem us, Lord, because of your mercy."  You cast us off and let our foes drive us back.  Why do you forget our woe?
  • Mk 1:40-45  A leper knelt and begged Jesus, “If you wish, you can make me clean.”  Jesus, stretching out to touch him:  “I do; be made clean,” and he was cleansed. “Don't tell anyone.”  But he publicized the matter...
  • Creighton:  In Samuel's time, Israel is at war with its neighbors, the priestly class was corrupt, and judge Eli is powerless to prevent the collapse.  Israel suffers 34K+ casualties and loses the ark.  Eli hears of this sons' death, then dies himself.  Israel's elders thought the ark, considered an earthly manifestation of God, would ensure success, but the Philistines, frightened of the ark's power, fought harder.  The Israelites forgot that the ark's power was proportional to their faithfulness to God.
Just as Israel felt abandoned, so does the leper, shunned by his community, but he recognizes Jesus can help him, surrenders himself to him, and asks him to cleanse him, and is cured.  May we with faith like the leper's surrender ourselves to God.
  • One Bread, One Body:  "What does your your voice sound like?"  Lepers, outcasts because of their contagious disease, had to live outside the town, keep their distance, and cry out "Unclean!" if anyone approached.  Jesus granted the leper's request, healing him by touch and word; he then invoked the law, which required the leper to show himself to the priests. We don't know from Scripture whether the leper did that, but he did show himself to the townspeople; maybe he wanted to "clear his image" with them so they'd accept him.  Now the leper could enter towns openly, but Jesus couldn't.  Does your voice sound like someone wanting to make himself look good, or someone who will do whatever Jesus says?
  • Passionist:  Today’s gospel is a story of risks, reversals, and joyful disobedience.  In the times of Jesus, lepers were outcasts, isolated, ostracized, marginalized.  Some believed leprosy was God’s punishment for sin.  But the leper in the gospel boldly disobeys the law and approaches Jesus, Jesus touches and cleanses him, the leprosy left, he ordered him to tell no one, and he disobeys and tells everyone.  Jesus reversed places with the man:  Jesus, who had traveled freely, was forced into isolation to avoid the crowds.  He now was forced to the margins, taking the place of the man he cleansed.  Love says and does what's necessary.  Another reversal:  by touching the leper, Jesus should have been contaminated, but Jesus, not the leper, is contagious.  The leper doesn't transmit his disease, but Jesus' contagion of love transformed the leper.  “Pain not transformed is transmitted” (Rohr).  Jesus, touching his isolation and pain, transformed him.  May we imitate the leper’s faith and Jesus’ touch, risking crossing barriers of convenience and comfort to reach out to those in pain.  Such faith and love begin with, “I do choose.”
  • DailyScripture.net:  ""Jesus can make me clean":  Unlike others who fled at the sight of a leper, Jesus touched the leper who approached him and made him clean.  Lepers were outcasts driven away and left on their own, shunned and regarded as dead.  Jewish law forbade anyone from approaching them.  But this leper approached Jesus confidently and humbly, expecting healing.  Normally a leper would be stoned or at least warded off if he approached a rabbi, but Jesus grants his request and demonstrates God's love, compassion, and tenderness through his touch, contact that would have been regarded as risking infection.  Jesus met the leper's misery with kindness, communicating God's love more eloquently than with words.  The Lord is always ready to show us his mercy and free us from whatever makes us unclean, unapproachable, or unloving towards others.  Do I show kindness and mercy to those who are hard to love, or whom others shun?"

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