February 11, 2024
by Mary Lee Brock
Creighton University's Graduate School
click here for photo and information about the writer

Sixth Sunday of Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 77

Leviticus 13:1-2, 44-46
Psalms 32:1-2, 5, 11
1 Corinthians 10:31-11:1
Mark 1:40-45

Praying Ordinary Time

Lent Audio Conversations - Preparing for Lent

What Can I Do Before Lent Begins?

The arts in all forms create an opportunity to animate our imaginations, see the world in new ways and call us to action. Now, after the pandemic, audiences are finding their way back to share experiences of concerts, films and live performances. My daughters and I recently attended a stage production of Jesus Christ Superstar. Before the show we enjoyed catching up with stories about our careers and our friends. After the show our discussion was about aspects of the performance we found moving, inspiring and surprising. We also remarked about the good timing of our seeing this show shortly before the beginning of Lent.

On this last Sunday of Ordinary Time before Lent, we hear more about the life of Jesus as he heals a leper. To give us context for the story, the first reading from Leviticus shares details about the response to leprosy. The actions to be taken by both the priest and the individual are outlined to clarify when a person is unclean. And in today’s second reading we hear Paul tell the Corinthians that everything we do should be for the glory of God. Paul says, “just as I try to please everyone in every way, not seeking my own benefit but that of the many, that they may be saved.” Jesus certainly embodied these words.

In today’s Gospel from Mark, we hear the story of Jesus taking pity on a man with leprosy and healing him from the disease. Jesus tells the man to follow the law of the day and go to the priest to be declared clean. Jesus also asks the man to tell no one else about his being healed. Filled with faith and overcome by gratitude, the man cannot help but share the news of the miracle he has experienced.

Seeing Jesus as a healer to all who have faith has always come easily to me, but I struggle to understand why Jesus would compel the man to not tell anyone about his being healed by Jesus. The performance of Jesus Christ Superstar helped me sort this out. The beginning of the show has a joyful and intimate feel. And as the story progresses, the crowds become more frantic and demanding. Caiaphas and the other high priests become more committed to the law. Jesus is living in that tension of wanting to be available to all who express their faith while also feeling the human limits of exhaustion. It is no wonder he asked the man he healed of leprosy to stay quiet.

As I anticipate the beginning of my Lenten journey this week, I pray with these questions: How can I support those who are excluded based on rules and laws? When have I been too afraid to ask for and accept God’s mercy? How can I help disrupt systems of oppression in the way of Jesus? And I pray for the grace to know how best to give glory to God.

I turn to you, Lord, in time of trouble, and you fill me with the joy of salvation.

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