Page 24 - Feb2012

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6th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Leviticus 13:1-2, 44-46
Psalm 32:1-2, 5, 11
1 Corinthians 10:31-11
Mark 1:40-45
In Leviticus Priests are given responsibility for public health, and lepers are forced to identify themselves
and move to the outskirts of the community. Our Psalm includes the process of "cleansing" begins and
ends with a spirit of trust in the Lord. Don't go it alone. Paul tells the Corinthians to "Do everything for
the glory of God." God doesn't do it--we do. That means we possess that freedom. Mark, our evan-
gelists tells the story of Jesus curing a leper and tells him to be quiet about it, which he doesn't.
As a young liberal Catholic, I tended to avoid much of the Old Testament "shalts" and "shalt nots," think-
ing many of them archaic vestiges of an ancient culture. As an older liberal Catholic, I now view them
with a much greater sense of gratitude and wonder. As a record of their era and a reminder for us, they
show an extraordinary attempt by a fledgling nation to assemble the principles of communal organization
that flowed from their understanding that they were not merely subjects of Divine power, but called to be
participants in the responsible exercise of that power. In reconciling the needs of an individual with the
needs of the community, they instituted patterns of public health designed to protect the wider commu-
nity from the afflictions of the few.
Although, from a modern perspective, the Leviticus provision for lepers is summarily cruel, it's very easy
to imagine that other nomadic tribes would have developed far more brutal solutions to the issues of what
they perceived as communicable diseases. In the world of the old Testament, misfortune--especially
misfortune that looked like it was going to spread to the wider community--was regularly looked upon as
a negative Divine judgment. Job was heckled. Jonah was tossed overboard. I think we can safely as-
sume that pre-Moses, lepers would have had an even harsher time.