Daily Gospel Reflection – Thursday of the First Week in Ordinary Time
Bishop Robert Barron
January 13, 2022
Thursday of the First Week in Ordinary Time
Gospel: Mc 1:40-45
A leper came to him and kneeling down begged him and said, “If you wish, you can make me clean.” Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand, touched the leper, and said to him, “I do will it. Be made clean.” The leprosy left him immediately, and he was made clean. Then, warning him sternly, he dismissed him at once. Then he said to him, “See that you tell no one anything, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer for your cleansing what Moses prescribed; that will be proof for them.” The man went away and began to publicize the whole matter. He spread the report abroad so that it was impossible for Jesus to enter a town openly. He remained outside in deserted places, and people kept coming to him from everywhere.
*United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
Bishop Robert Barron
Friends, our Gospel for today has to do with Jesus’ healing a leper. There aren’t that many lepers around today, but there are plenty of people that we treat as outsiders or pariahs. Like Jesus, we should be welcoming to them. Now, I have nothing particularly against that way of reading the situation, but I suspect that we’ve all heard it a thousand times.
Let me propose a symbolic reading a little different from the customary one. I propose that the leper here stands not so much for the socially ostracized but for the one who has wandered away from right worship, the one who is no longer able or willing to worship the true God. That’s why Jesus tells the man to "go, show yourself to the priest." In other words, go back to the temple from which you’ve been away for so long.
What is so important about worship? To worship is to order the whole of one’s life toward the living God, and, in doing so, to become interiorly and exteriorly rightly ordered. To worship is to signal to oneself what one’s life is finally about. It’s nothing that God needs, but it is very much something that we need.