Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Year B 13th /14th February, 2021

This is yet another confrontation between Jesus and evil. In recent gospels, we have seen Jesus overcome possessing demons, sickness and social taboos; many of the themes merge in this text. The leper takes an audacious step in approaching Jesus, defying all the rules and conventions of his society. Despite his exclusion and isolation, he has not lost hope. Jesus reacts in exactly the opposite way from that which may be expected. He is moved by pity not revulsion. Instead of sending the man away, he responds with immense compassion to the man’s courage and faith. He reaches out and touches him. This is not only an act of ritual impurity but of human foolhardiness! Not wanting to be known only as a miracle worker, Jesus orders the leper not to speak of his cure but to undergo the necessary rituals to enable him to re-enter the people of Israel. The priest should be able to recognise that in the cure of the leper, the prophecy of Isaiah is being fulfilled and the Messiah is among them. The great irony is that by curing the leper and allowing his re-entry into the community, Jesus places himself in a position where he is forced to go out into isolation in places where no one lived.