Summary: God is ever willing to forgive and heal us of our moral leprosy.
Lk 4__14-22 and 5__12-13 Proclaim glad tidings to the poor
Friday after Epiphany Reading
1 1 Jn 4:19–5:4
Beloved, we love God because he first loved us. If anyone says, “I love God,”
but hates his brother, he is a liar; for whoever does not love a brother whom he has seen
cannot love God whom he has not seen.
This is the commandment we have from him: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.
Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is begotten by God, and everyone who loves the Father
loves also the one begotten by him. In this way we know that we love the children of God
when we love God and obey his commandments. For the love of God is this, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome, for whoever is begotten by God conquers the world. And the victory that conquers the world is our faith.
Friday after Epiphany
Gospel Lk 4:14-22; 5:12-13 glad tidings to the poor
Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news of him spread throughout the whole region.
He taught in their synagogues and was praised by all.
He came to Nazareth, where he had grown up, and went according to his custom into the synagogue on the sabbath day. He stood up to read and was handed a scroll of the prophet Isaiah.
He unrolled the scroll and found the passage where it was written:
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the o ppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.
Rolling up the scroll, he handed it back to the attendant and sat down, and the eyes of all in the synagogue looked intently at him. He said to them, “Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.”
And all spoke highly of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth.
While Jesus was in one of the towns, a man came along who was covered with leprosy. When he saw Jesus, he fall with his face to the ground and begged him, :Lord, if you are willing, you can make me claen.”
Jesus reached out his and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!”
And immediately the leprosy left him.
Today’s Gospel reading illustrates all three senses of sacred scripture. The three senses of sacred scripture are the literal sense, the spiritual sense, and the fuller sense.
The literal sense of today’s reading
This is a vivid narrative about a man suffering from a skin disease known as leprosy. According to the story this man is described as “full of leprosy.” This meant he was very sick with open sores and wounds all over his body. Suffering this way without proper medical treatment it was impossible to clean the skin and wounds and they only became worse, infected and gave off a terrible stench.
Lepers suffering this way have a difficult time wearing garments since most fabrics available at that time, cotton, linen and wool, would become irritating to the skin and chafe and itch making the pain worse.
Lepers were social outcasts. Jewish law forbade them to enter into the town so as not to spread their disease among the other citizens. This meant they had to leave their homes, their jobs, loose their income and material possessions, and their friends and neighbors as well. Lepers owned only the clothes they were wearing. They were forced to beg for food and people would leave food and drink for them in specially designated places where lepers were allowed to go outside the city walls.
We can only imagine how terrible the life of a leper must have been. They lived tragic lives of neglect of every type. The psychological state of this poor man must have been desperate. He probably prayed day and night to God asking Him for forgiveness of his sins.
Jewish teaching at this time attributed all physical handicaps, deformities, sickness and disease to the personal sins of the victim and even of their parents.
This poor leper was a social outcast not only because of the horror of the sight of his physical deformity due to the disease and the terrible stench of rotting infested flesh, but also because people looked down
on them as cursed by God due to sin and immorality.
Here we see a poor leper who came from one of the towns Jesus visited. The leper evidently heard the loud murmur of the crowds raising their voices in excitement that Jesus was outside the town on His way to visit them. The leper became excited thinking it was possible his disease could be cured if Jesus only wished it to be so.