SIXTH SUNDAY IN THE ORDINARY TIME, YEAR B.
14th February 2021
Leviticus 13:1-2,44-46; 1 Corinthians 10:31-11:1; Mark 1:40-45.
Today we continue in our reflection on the healing ministry of Jesus Christ. We are presented with the healing of a leper by Jesus Christ. It is the first recorded account of the healing of a leper in the ministry of Jesus. What is significant is the faith of the leper. He defiled the laid down law of Moses concerning leprosy to meet Jesus. And Jesus defiled the same law to heal him of the disease by touching him. According to the law of Moses as presented in the first reading, ‘A man infected with leprosy must wear his clothing torn and his hair disordered; he must shield his upper lip and cry, “Unclean, unclean.” As long as the disease lasts he must be unclean; and therefore he must live apart: he must live outside the camp.’ Unfortunately, isolation and subsequent death was the society’s remedy to leprosy. There was no cure for leprosy until 1873 when the bacteria responsible for it was discovered. Medical treatment of leprosy did not begin until 1940. Since then, isolation is no more required as treatment make transmission difficult. With medical cure and preventive measures, do we still need to pray for healing today?
The covid-19 pandemic presented a similar situation at the beginning of 2020. It takes severity of illness and the rate of transmission to determine how dangerous a virus is. The corona virus spreads rapidly in a contained environment like the Diamond Princess cruise ship in February 2020 where 700 of the 3,711 passengers and crew members were infected with covid-19 within a period of two days. A professor from Cambridge University said of corona virus; “This virus is brilliant, it allows you to have a viral factory in your nose and feel completely well”. Isolation and social distancing proved a reliable means of breaking the closed circuit of infection. There was lockdown! The warnings created real panic and anxiety among people. The national lockdowns, however effective, came at a cost which we will realise later. The vaccine roll out promises prevention of transmission and not cure from the virus!
The national lockdown did not silence the voice of prayer in our parish. Like the leper of the gospel, we went on our knees from the very first day of the lockdown. Isolated in our various homes, our voices of prayer for protection from the corona virus echoed in our online masses. A practical expression of our faith is visible in the efforts by our conscious and collective efforts to protect each other from the virus by making our churches safe. This is a miracle that will live with us for a very long time. Miracles do happen! It happened in our parish! We have seen how our faith grew through the challenges of the pandemic. Our prayer for protection from the corona virus paid off. We prayed to the same Jesus who said to the leper, ‘Be cured!’.
Fr Anthony Ekpunobi, CM