Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Listening Well

When we read today's gospel about Jesus healing the leper and asking him not to tell anyone about it, the kids and I discussed how Jesus has a reason for everything he asks, no matter how odd it seems. Shouldn't it be a good thing to go and tell everyone how Jesus cured you of leprosy? But as a result, Jesus couldn't enter towns openly anymore, and those who could not go out to him in a deserted place were deprived of his presence.

Then we went to read our meditation on the readings, this one penned by my dad, and discovered that he'd said the same thing, but dug into the scripture more deeply.

"The man went off and began to proclaim the whole matter freely, making the story public. As a result of this, it was no longer possible for Jesus to enter a town openly." —Mark 1:45
The leper was an outcast because of his contagious disease. By the law of Moses, the leper was required to live outside the town, keep his distance from others, and cry out "Unclean, unclean" if anyone approached (Lv 13:45). It is likely that people of the nearby towns recognized the leper by the sound of his voice. 
Jesus, in His great mercy, granted the leper's request. He healed the leper by His touch and His word of command. Jesus again invoked the law of Moses, which required the leper to show himself to the priests and be made clean (see Lv 14:2ff). We don't know from the text of the Scripture whether the leper actually showed himself to the priests. We do know, however, that the leper showed himself to the townspeople. It's possible, and even understandable, that the leper wanted to "clear his image" with the townspeople so that they would allow him to join their company, so they would accept the sound of his voice rather than recoil at it. Possibly the leper wanted to complete his own healing socially. Yet Jesus never heals halfway. By ordering the leper to show himself to the priest, the social healing of the leper would have occurred more gradually, but would ultimately have been more complete and widespread, as well as "legal." But the leper took a shortcut, and Jesus paid the price. Now the leper could enter towns openly, but Jesus could not (Mk 1:45). 
What does your voice sound like to those near you? Does it sound like someone wanting to make himself look good? Or does it sound like that of someone who will do whatever Jesus says? (Jn 2:5)

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