Friday - Christmas Time
1) Opening prayer
you have made known the birth of the Saviour
by the light of a star.
May he continue to guide us with the light,
for he lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
2) Gospel Reading - Luke 5,12-16
Now it happened that Jesus was in one of the towns when suddenly a man appeared, covered with a skin-disease. Seeing Jesus he fell on his face and implored him saying, 'Sir, if you are willing you can cleanse me.'
He stretched out his hand, and touched him saying, 'I am willing. Be cleansed.' At once the skin-disease left him. He ordered him to tell no one, 'But go and show yourself to the priest and make the offering for your cleansing just as Moses prescribed, as evidence to them.'
But the news of him kept spreading, and large crowds would gather to hear him and to have their illnesses cured, but he would go off to some deserted place and pray.
• A leper came close to Jesus. He had to live far away from others, because whoever touched him remained impure! But that leper had great courage. He transgressed or broke the norms of religion so as to be able to get close to Jesus. He said: Lord, if you want, you can heal me! That is: “It is not necessary for you to touch me. It is sufficient for the Lord to want it, and he cured him!” The sentence shows two evils: a) the evil of leprosy which renders him impure; b) the evil of solitude to which he was condemned by society and by religion. This also reveals the man’s great faith in the power of Jesus. And Jesus profoundly moved, heals him from both evils! In the first place, to cure the solitude, he touches the leper. It is as if he would say: “For me you are not excluded. I accept you as a brother!” And then he cures the leper saying: I want it, be cured!
• The leper, in order to be able to enter in contact with Jesus, had transgressed the norms of the law. Jesus also, in order to be able to help that excluded man and reveal to him a new face of God , transgresses the norms of his religion and touches the leper. At that time, whoever touched a leper became impure according to the religious authority and by the law of the time.
• Jesus, not only cures, but also wants the cured person to be able to live with others. He once again inserts the person in society so that he can live together with others. At that time for a leper to be accepted again in the community, he needed a certificate from a priest, that he had been cured. It is the same today. The sick person leaves the hospital having a document signed by the doctor of the section. Jesus obliges the person to go and look for the document, so that he can live normally with the others. He obliges the authority to recognize that this man has been cured.
• Jesus forbids the leper to speak about the healing. The Gospel of Mark informs us that this prohibition was not effective, did not serve. The leper, went away, but then started freely proclaiming and telling the story everywhere, so that Jesus could no longer go openly into any town, but stayed outside in deserted places (Mk 1, 45) Why? Because Jesus had touched a leper. For this reason, according to the opinion of the religion of the time, now he himself was impure and should be far away from everybody. He could no longer enter into the cities. And Mark says that the people did not care at all about these official norms, in fact, people came to him from all parts (Mk 1, 45). Total Subversion!
• The two-fold message which Luke and Mark give the community of their time and to all of us is the following: a) to announce the Good News means to give witness of the concrete experience that one has of Jesus. What does the leper announce? He tells the others the good that Jesus has done to him. That is all! All this! And this is the witness which impels the others to accept the Good News of God, those brought by Jesus. b) In order to take the Good News to people, it is not necessary to be afraid to transgress the religious norms which are contrary to God’s project and which render communication, dialogue and the lived experience of love, difficult. Even if this implies difficulty for the people, as it happened with Jesus.
4) Personal questions
• In order to help the neighbour, Jesus transgresses the law of purity. In the Church today, are there any laws which render difficult or prevent the practice of love toward neighbour?
• In order to be cured, the leper had the courage to challenge the public opinion of his time. And I?
5) Concluding prayer
Praise Yahweh, Jerusalem, Zion, praise your God.
For he gives strength to the bars of your gates,
he blesses your children within you. (Ps 147,12-13)