Saturday, February 14, 2009

A commentary for the 6th Sunday in Ordinary Time by Sr. Mary Luke Jones, OSB

Mark 1:40-45

A leper came to Jesus and kneeling down begged him and said,
"If you wish, you can make me clean."
Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand, 
touched him, and said to him, 
"I do will it. Be made clean."
The leprosy left him immediately, and he was made clean.
Then, warning him sternly, he dismissed him at once. 
He said to him, "See that you tell no one anything,
but go, show yourself to the priest 
and offer for your cleansing what Moses prescribed;
that will be proof for them."
The man went away and began to publicize the whole matter.
He spread the report abroad
so that it was impossible for Jesus to enter a town openly.
He remained outside in deserted places,
and people kept coming to him from everywhere.

Do you know how hard it is to keep a secret? We are people who like to communicate. We like to spread the news…good or bad. There is something in us that needs to tell somebody…anybody…what we know that they might not. Is it any wonder that the leper couldn’t wait to publicize his cleansing?

What was Jesus thinking…asking him to keep secret the most marvelous thing that had ever happened to him? In Ecclesiastes, we read there “is a time to keep silence, and a time to speak.” Distinguishing the two can make a world of difference. Long ago, I read the autobiography of Fritz Lerner of the famous Lerner and Lowe song writing team. He was reflecting on his life and commented that his only regrets were the times he spoke when he should have kept his mouth shut. “I never got in trouble,” he said, “for what I didn’t say.”

There certainly are times when we need to speak…a word of hope and encouragement, a word of compassion, a word of praise. Most of you remember our dear Sr. Margaret. This is one of the many things I admired about her. She was full of compliments but that was never enough. She always made sure other people were within earshot when she paid one. Not only did you feel good but the bystanders also got to enter into your good fortune.

I suppose that is how the leper felt in today’s reading. He was cured. He knew who cured him. He wanted everyone to know and enter into his good fortune. I can only think he spent the rest of his life telling the story of the rabbi who took pity on him and made him clean. No secrets there just glory and praise.

As followers of Jesus who have also been redeemed, let’s not keep it a secret either.

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