Daily Reflection
February 13th, 2000
Larry Gillick, S.J.
Deglman Center for Ignatian Spirituality
Click here for a photo of and information on this writer.

The Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Leviticus 13:1-2, 44-46
Psalms 32:1-2, 5, 11
1 Corinthians 10:31--11:1
Mark 1:40-45

Rejection, exclusion, alienation and being ostracized are terrible words to hear and worse to experience.  In the Hebrew scriptures, from which we read in today's first reading, being a person who has a skin condition such as leprosy, must be cast out and avoided.

The book of Leviticus has many such rules for the proper conduct of Moses' followers.  Moses has the authority of God Who declares this law as being necessary for the health of the rest of the camp.  Physical deformities or mental illness was interpreted as being a sign of sin or God's displeasure. 

It is within this sense of religious legalism that we hear Jesus in today's gospel including, reaching towards and healing such an "unclean" man.  The man comes with a simple hope and faith, "If you wish, you can make me clean."  Jesus actually touched the fellow and expressed the divine yes to all humankind's uncleanness, "I do will it.  Be made clean."  This is figuratively and literally a quite touching picture and one each of us can enter easily.

When watching detergent-commercials on TV, there is usually a situation wherein the most deep-down, hard-to-remove grass stains, or ink blotches are presented as almost impossible to be removed.  Behold a box of all new and improved Zippo-Power or Lily-Ever is presented to save the laundry-day.  The situation acts as a backdrop for the main event or personage.

We are still in the first chapter of Mark's gospel and we have seen Jesus as having power over the "unclean spirits" and now having the power of love to not only cleanse a person from physical illness, but thereby bring him back into relationships.  We listen to the tenderness of His power to make whole and holy.  He wants to and seeks out those who through their own faults and sin, or through some illness, stand outside human and divine community. 

We are invited by today's readings and liturgy to present ourselves, not as dirty and rejectable, but as those who need a Jesus, a savior.  We have some grass stains from our past and some feelings of being quite unclean and thereby deserve to be rejected, excluded and abandoned.  We need a savior to save us from the hell of our own confinement.  Does Jesus still "will it?"  Do we have the desire to be un-excluded?

What we do best at all times and especially at the liturgy, is to allow Jesus to be Jesus; allow His grace to wash our space.  We can grow accustomed to our dirt which is different from our "earth" or humanness.  What we see and hear today is Jesus calling us to an honesty, which frees us from the ink-stained self that, like leprosy, can keep us from His communion and community.  "I do will it."

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