Saturday, February 10, 2018

6th Ordinary Sunday, Year B, 11.02.2018

Leviticus 13:1-2, 45-46 / 1 Cor 10:31 – 11:1 / Mark 1:40-45
If looks don’t give an impression, or don’t give any impression, then there is no need for mirrors.

Certainly, good looks are important in so far as to give a good first impression.

And when it comes to good looks, it is more than just having nice clothes. It is about the hair and how to stop the receding hairline. It’s about the body and how to reduce the expanding waistline. It’s about the face and how to get rid of those stretch-lines.

And talking about the face, that’s what we usually look at in a photo, especially our face.

We rather not look at those photos in which we are not happy about how we look. But then there are no bad photos actually, because that’s how our faces look like sometimes; either it’s the wrong angle or the wrong pose.

But the fact is that many people complain about their looks, but almost none will complain about their brains, although the face and the brain are so close.

And more fundamentally, the Bible tells us that as much as man looks at the outward appearance, God looks at the heart (1 Sam 16:7).

Yes, God looks at the heart, whereas we tend to be captivated by outward appearances.

So we may admire or envy those who look good and gain easy acceptance. But at the same time, we also feel sorry for those who look less than plain or ordinary. They are often overlooked and swept under the carpet.

But being plain or ordinary looking is certainly not as bad as repulsive- looking that people would want to avoid.

Such was the case of the leper in the gospel. How he contracted leprosy, we were not told. But the 1st reading tells us how the religious law at that time looks at lepers.

If a swelling or a scab or shiny spot appears on a man’s skin, a case of leprosy of the skin is to be suspected. Then comes the action to be taken – the leper must wear torn clothes, his hair disordered, must live apart and outside the camp, and go around crying out “Unclean, unclean…”

Regardless of whether it was contagious or not, the disease has rendered the leper to be physically unclean as well as spiritually unclean. That was why the leper was separated from his people, as well as forced to be separated from God.

For the leper, it was not so much the pain of leprosy that was eating away at him physically. It was the pain of separation and rejection that was eating into him spiritually.

As if the separation and rejection of his own people was not painful enough, he had to find out if God was also rejecting him. That was like the last straw that will break him.

Whatever he knew or believe about Jesus, the leper came to Him and pleaded on his knees, “If you want to, you can cure me.” It was really a life-or-death moment for the leper. It may sound more like a demand, but good manners may not be needed in a desperate matter.

Yes, Jesus felt sorry for him, stretched out His hand and touched him, and said, “Of course I want to! Be cured.”

To a desperate demand, Jesus responded with a demanding decision, “Of course I want to! Be cured.”

When Jesus looked at the leper, He was not looking at the disfigurement. Jesus looked beyond and into the leper’s heart, which was broken by separation and rejection, a heart disfigured by pain and rejection.

Jesus came to seek and save what was lost. He came for the sick, not the healthy. He came for the sinners, not the saints.

Jesus is looking at each one of us and what does He see? As we look at ourselves in the mirror, what do we see? It is not what we are looking at that really matters, but what we see.

Whatever or whoever we see in the mirror, maybe we can think about this: If the whole world was blind, how many people would we be able to impress?
If it is going by looks, then the answer is obvious.

We may not suffer from leprosy, but it hurts and it is painful when people give us dirty looks.

The pain and the hurt of the leprosy of rejection and separation eat into us.

That’s when we must turn to Jesus and plead, “If You want to, You can cure me.” And Jesus will respond, “Of course I want to! Be cured.”

And He stretched out His hands on the cross and died for us. By His wounds we are healed. Because Jesus came to take away our pain and He carried our hurts for us.

But we must have faith in Jesus that He wants to do that for us. We too must go down on our knees and plead with Him. But we must put our faith in Him.

Because pain and rejection look backward. Fear looks around. But faith always look forward. 

Yes, Jesus looks at us, He looks into us so that we can be healed, so that we can look forward with faith and proclaim the wonders that He has done for us.