Leprosy of Disobedience

Mark 1: 40-45
1 Sm 4: 1-11/ Ps 44

He remained outside in deserted places, and people kept coming to Him.
(Mark 1:45)

We are in our disobedience
Stained by the leprosy of sin;
But thank God in our penitence,
Touched by God’s Word, we are made clean.

One day, a leper came up to Jesus and on his knees begged Him, “If You are willing, You can make me clean.” Moved with pity, our Lord stretched out His hand, and touched him, saying, “I do will it; be made clean.” Immediately, the leprosy left him and he was cleansed. Jesus sternly warned him not to speak about his healing to anyone but told him to “show yourself to the priest and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded, as a proof for them.” (Mk.1:44) But the man was so exultant about his healing that he began to proclaim it freely, to such an extent that Jesus could no longer publicly enter a village, but had to stay away in isolated areas. Still, people came to Him from everywhere for healing. (Quoted from Mark 1:40-45)


The act of touching a leper, in the moral code of the Jews, made a person unclean. But this singular act of Jesus, Who stretched out His hand to the leper demonstrated His compassion for this afflicted man, and His sincere desire to take away the pain and social exclusion of the leper, even at the risk of being ostracized Himself.

It was therefore ironic that by restoring the once leprous man back to his community, our Lord found Himself instead unable to mix freely in any town or village, and had become the “outsider” that the former leper was. This was because the healed man did not obey the instructions of Jesus, telling everyone he met about his miraculous healing. Now everyone wanted to see who this ‘wonder worker’ was. It was as if the former leper had stirred up a hornet’s nest, and now people were only interested to see His miracles and not to hear His message of salvation and the kingdom of God.

Disobedience has always gotten man into trouble ever since God created him. If only Adam and Eve had not disobeyed the simple rules laid down by their Maker, life for all of mankind would still be a paradise on earth. And yet God did not allow the leprosy of sin to bring mankind to perdition. To bring man back to a clean slate, God would devise a plan of salvation, and end up being thrown outside the gates of Jerusalem, ostracized and tortured in a way worse than any leper. “This He has done and continues to do, reconciling each of us through Himself to the Father, bringing each one back to obedience and thoroughly healing our disobedience” (Saint Gregory Palamas, The Homilies, 35)).

Disobedience can lead to grave danger. When Bro. Romy was a young man, he was a hard-headed delinquent who came to learn obedience the hard way. One evening, his father told him not to go out as it was already late. He waited for his father to go to bed, and then slipped out of the house. Standing at a corner, another thrill-seeking youth stabbed him for no apparent reason. It was the first time he prayed intensely to God to spare his life. “If only you had listened to me,” his father told him. Each time we sin, we drive Jesus out of our camp, but we are the ones feeling like a leper. But His healing touch in the Eucharist cleans us once again in our repentance. May we all learn from our Lord Jesus how to value the virtue of obedience.

I was once a leper, Lord, in my sinfulness; but You touched me with your Word, and You made me clean. Never let me disobey Your statutes and decrees again. Amen.

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