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Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

The disease of leprosy can be traced by to at least 2,000 BC and it was very much feared, as there was no remedy till the 1940s. The first reading tells how lepers were to be treated. While it was understandable that they should be isolated to prevent them infecting others, the fact that they had to wear torn clothes, have disordered hair and cry “unclean” was extremely degrading. Jesus did not regard anyone as unclean, and pitied the poor man who was sick through no fault of his own. He always sought out the despised and rejected and was impatient with those who looked down on them. He was not afraid of touching the man, who must have felt a new sense of being loved for the person he was.

Leprosy can be used as a metaphor for sin which is disfiguring and affects our relationship with God and society. Often we cast our own shadow on those we consider beneath us. In the novel The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd, the racist white sheriff indicates to Lily that she is lowering herself by living with black people and that she should remove herself immediately. In our own country we are beginning to single out immigrants and to spread unpleasant rumours about them. This has led to criminal acts of arson. As followers of Christ we have no business casting aspersions on anyone: instead, we need to look inside for our own ”leprosy” and ask for God’s grace to bring us healing, such as Jesus brought to the  poor leper.