Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time Homily Transcript
Leprosy, a dreaded disease. An absolute death sentence in the time of Jesus. A dreaded disease even today. In the time of Jesus, when a person was diagnosed with Leprosy, they had to go and show themselves to the priests. Then, they had to leave everything. One who was diagnosed with Leprosy had to leave their family and friends. They had to leave their work and their synagogue. They had to leave the marketplace. They would be led to the edge of the village or town. The priest would actually pray over the leper. He would pray the prayer of the dead because with Leprosy, you were considered dead to the community. The leper then had to shave their head, male or female. They had to keep open their shirt. They had to carry a bell around with them. In those deserted places, if they saw a person approaching them, it was the obligation of the leper to ring the bell, and to shout out, get away from me. I’m a leper. Sometimes, they would congregate. The lepers would live together in community. But, for all practical purposes, to be diagnosed with Leprosy, was a diagnosis of death.
We encounter now in the gospel, a leper who approaches Jesus. Jesus allows him to come. Then, Jesus does something that is unheard of. He touches the leper and brings healing into his life. The compassion of Jesus to walk with those who suffer in life. The mercy of Jesus given to this leper. He is made clean. He is made whole. Jesus gives him his life back. He can go back to his family, his friends, his community, his synagogue, his place of work. Jesus brings new life to one, in so many ways is considered dead.
Jesus is compassion and Jesus is mercy for all of us. We turn to Jesus in our times of need. We pray for the healing of Jesus into our lives. Jesus hears the prayers of those who cry out to him and pray to him, to us. And so, as we gather to celebrate Eucharist, to give thanks and praise God, we thank the Lord for the compassion, the mercy, and the healing that he brings into our lives.