Foolish Disobedience

Mark 1: 40-45
Heb 3: 7-14 / Psa 95

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.

A man with leprosy came to Jesus and begged Him on his knees, “If you are willing, you can make me clean.” Moved with pity, He reached out His hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” Jesus said. “Be clean!” Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cleansed. Jesus sent him away at once with a strong warning: “See that you don’t tell this to anyone. But go, show yourself to the priest and offer the sacrifices that Moses commanded for your cleansing, as a testimony to them.” Instead he went out and began to talk freely, spreading the news. As a result, Jesus could no longer enter a town openly. He remained outside in deserted places, and people kept coming to him. (Mark 1: 40-45)

Reflection

Leprosy was set apart as an affliction far worse than other ailments not only because it was considered so repulsive and incurable, but because a man so afflicted was also regarded as spiritually and morally unclean. That was why the leper begged Jesus, “If you wish, you can make me clean.” What he prayed for was not merely for healing, but for cleansing. Isolated from society during those times, they were consigned to garbage dumps, where they could scrounge for scraps to survive, and also so that no one could witness their miserable existence.

The reality of leprosy can be seen as the physical manifestation of the malignancy of sin, which isolates us from the community of God’s kingdom, and we can only be cleansed through God’s mercy and the sinner’s repentance. Sin is so loathsome to God that we can become “unclean” just by tolerating it. Ever since we first learned our catechism, we were told to avoid all occasions of sin. However, today’s Gospel also teaches us that although God despises sin, He still loves the sinner, and wants to free him from his affliction, just as our Lord Jesus touched the leper not only to heal him, but to show him God’s mercy and compassion

How remarkable our God is, that our disobedience and wayward ways do not affect His divine compassion whenever we come to Him in humble supplication. He is always moved with pity by our various afflictions. However, we must not test the limits of His mercy. Today’s first reading says: “…if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion, during the time of testing in the wilderness, where your ancestors tested and tried me, though for forty years they saw what I did. That is why I was angry with that generation; I said, ‘Their hearts are always going astray, and they have not known my ways.’ So I declared on oath in my anger, ‘They shall never enter my rest.’ See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God.” (Heb. 3:7-12)

How foolish a “faithless and unforgiven generation” is if they still persist in a life of sin in spite of all the signs that God has provided in the thousands of years since His Sacrifical Lamb died in Calvary. Our time in this life is so uncertain. Death can come like a sudden gust of wind and snuff out our fragile life like a flickering candle. Then how can the disobedient face his Maker? . . . ‘They shall never enter my rest.’

We were all unclean, Lord, in our foolishness and disobedience. But You touched us with your Word, and You have made us clean. Grant that we may never disobey Your statutes and decrees again. Amen.

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