Fiat Voluntas Tua

Am I the Leper?


“Orang kusta lenyap penyakitnya dan menjadi tahir.” – Berikut saya bagikan homili romo Sarwi yang sedang bertugas di Sengkang Singapore. Semoga menjadi berkat bagi kita semua.

6th Sunday of Ordinary Time / B / 2009

1.    My sisters and brothers, today’s Gospel gives us an opportunity to examine a few issues.  But let us focus just on one, so that we can go home with one good lesson.

2.    Firstly, if we cross reference with Luke’s gospel of the same event, we know that this man was suffering from leprosy.   Next, we must understand the significance of leprosy in the time of Jesus.  It was the most dreaded disease. It was the mother of all diseases.  Lepers were treated worse than the common criminal.  And they suffer a long and painful death.

3.    Why was this so?  It is because the sickness has two dimensions.  It was not just a physical sickness but also a social sickness.  The people believed that lepers were big sinners, and God punished them with leprosy.  They were treated as outcasts.  They had to stay outside towns and villages.  Everywhere they went, they had to carry a bell and alert people by shouting “Unclean, Unclean”.  People avoided them at all cost.

4.    It is like the AIDS sickness when it was first discovered in modern day.  People were afraid to touch them and also afraid to touch the things they touched because they did not want to be infected.  So lepers were isolated in the worst way possible.

5.    Now that we understand the background, we can truly appreciate this event.

6.    Here was a man who was in the terminal stage of leprosy. He was so desperate to live that he went against social laws and entered a village to look for Jesus.  Then, he did another unprecedented thing by talking to a human being.  This shows how desperate he was to get out of his physical and social torment.

7.    Notice also that although he came this far, he was doubtful.  He told Jesus, “If you are willing, you can cleanse me.”  He was sure that Jesus could heal.  That was why he dared to break all the rules just to meet Jesus. Yet he was not sure if his request would be granted.

8.    Now before we go on to examine how Jesus responded, let us review the leper’s attitude and behaviour.  Perhaps we can all relate to him.

9.    I think there is a little bit of us in this suffering leper.  His leprosy and the related social crosses he had to carry reflect a part of our life at one time or other.   And this one moment when he encounters Jesus gives us a powerful reflection of our own struggles with faith and life.

10.    You and I can relate to him in many ways.  Reflect on the following situations as I mention them one by one, and link it to the leper.

11.    Remember the time when we were so sick and felt so helpless?  (pause)

12.    Or the time when we were overlooked and felt neglected by our very close friend?  (pause)

13.    Or when we were in so much pain that we could not bear?  (pause)

14.    Or when we felt so hurt when someone we love said some hurtful words about us?  (pause)

15.    Or when we were not invited or included in any social event?  (pause)

16.    Or when we were in some kind of need and no one seemed to care, especially our close friends? (pause)

17.    Or if we are now suffering from some kind of illness or heavy burden that won’t seem to go away? (pause)

18.    My sisters and brothers… the leper felt all this… and more.  Like you and me in those situations, he felt abandoned and alone in his pain.

19.    Now let us shift our focus on Jesus.  How did Jesus react when the leper approached him?

20.    Let us understand the scenario.  This was an unusual situation.  Someone who was an outcast, someone who was so disfigured and repulsive was standing in front of Jesus.  (pause)

21.    This tells us that whatever our condition, however broken we are, however unworthy… we can still come to Jesus.  We can go against whatever social prejudices or conditioning or mindsets and go to Jesus for healing.  We come to Him without fear, without inhibitions.

22.    Here’s the second point which we can relate.  The leper said “If you are willing, you can cleanse me”.  In other words, he knew Jesus had the power to heal.  Yet he was unsure if his request would be granted.

23.    How many times have we been guilty of this wavering faith?  We know that Jesus is God.  We know that Jesus loves us.  Yet, we are not sure if our prayer will be answered.

24.    The scripture text said: Feeling sorry for him, Jesus stretched out his hand, touched him and said to him, ‘I am willing. Be cleansed.’  Let us break up this sentence into three parts.

25.    Feeling sorry for him.  What does this tell us?  Basic point: Jesus loved him.  Jesus loves us.  If you love someone, will you not give him or her what he or she needs?

26.    Second point: Jesus stretched out his hand, touched him.  No one ever touched a leper.  And probably for 40 or 50 years, the leper has never felt a human touch.  No matter how long you have not felt the touch of Jesus, it is never too late.  Just be open and ask Him to touch you with His love.  But how would Jesus respond?

27.    This leads us to the third part of the sentence: Jesus said to the leper – “I am willing, be cleansed”.  No questions asked, no blame, no “I told you so”.  He goes straight to the point… which is the leper’s need for healing.  And He healed him.  What does this tell us?  This single act shows us so powerfully that God is so full of mercy.  He forgives so readily… as long as we are sorry for our sins.  There is no sin too big for God to forgive.

28.    And there is no sickness or problem too big for God to heal.  But know this, too, that God gives us what we need, not what we want.  And God gives only the best, not second-best.  The trouble is sometimes what we ask is second-best, but we think that is best for us.  Our intellect is only a tiny drop in the ocean when compared to the Wisdom of God.

29.    But Wisdom alone is incomplete.  If a child has a parent who is wise, the child can only benefit in a limited way.  But when his parent is wise and loving, the child will benefit fully.  Wisdom combined with Love is the most powerful gift one can ever give or receive.  This combination fully describes the nature of our God.

30.    But just as we touch on wisdom and love, which is God’s nature, I also want to touch a little bit about sin, which is our fallen nature.

31.    In this gospel text, we encounter the sickness of leprosy.  And the people of that time associated it with sin.  Actually, they are not far wrong in doing so.  You see, leprosy is the most graphic image of sin.  Sin ravages the soul, destroys it bit by bit, like leprosy.  Beginning with a small spot, leprosy spreads, then it deforms and disfigures the person. Like sin, it isolates and separates the person from family, from society and even from God.   When God sees a sinful soul, it would be like Jesus looking at the leper, with his deformity and brokenness.

32.    Just as in the time of Jesus, when only God could cure leprosy, only God can heal our souls.  As I mentioned, the great mercy of God guarantees us instant forgiveness.  God not only forgives, but He instantly forgets.

33.    The leper who was restored by Jesus returned to family, community and normal life.  The sinner restored by God lives a new life once again.

34.    Sin and sickness sometimes go together – but not always.  It is certainly not God’s punishment if we fall sick.  If we lead an irresponsible life, we punish ourselves by bringing on our sickness.  But whether it is sin or sickness, God’s tremendous love for us means only one thing.  That there is hope.  But we must act on this hope… like that leper.

35.    Amen!

Sengkang, 14th of February 2009. [ Sarwiseso Robertus, CICM]


Inilah Injil Yesus Kristus menurut Markus (1:40-45)
40 Sekali peristiwa, seorang yang sakit kusta datang kepada Yesus, dan sambil berlutut di hadapan-Nya ia memohon bantuan-Nya, katanya: “Kalau Engkau mau, Engkau dapat mentahirkan aku.” 41 Maka tergeraklah hati-Nya oleh belas kasihan, lalu Ia mengulurkan tangan-Nya, menjamah orang itu dan berkata kepadanya: “Aku mau, jadilah engkau tahir.” 42 Seketika itu juga lenyaplah penyakit kusta orang itu, dan ia menjadi tahir. 43 Segera Ia menyuruh orang itu pergi dengan peringatan keras: 44 “Ingatlah, janganlah engkau memberitahukan apa-apa tentang hal ini kepada siapapun, tetapi pergilah, perlihatkanlah dirimu kepada imam dan persembahkanlah untuk pentahiranmu persembahan, yang diperintahkan oleh Musa, sebagai bukti bagi mereka.” 45 Tetapi orang itu pergi memberitakan peristiwa itu dan menyebarkannya kemana-mana, sehingga Yesus tidak dapat lagi terang-terangan masuk ke dalam kota. Ia tinggal di luar di tempat-tempat yang sepi; namun orang terus juga datang kepada-Nya dari segala penjuru.

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