Vugt: Jesus cures the leper

THE Gospel of today says Mk1:40-45: “A leper comes to Jesus and begged him, “If “If you want to, you can make me clean.” Moved with pity, Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, “I do want to; be clean.” The leprosy left the man at once and he was made clean. As Jesus sent the man away, he sternly warned him, “Don’t tell anyone about this, but go and show yourself to the priest, and for the cleansing bring the offering ordered by Moses; in this way you will give to them your testimony.”

However, as soon as the man went out, he began spreading the news everywhere, so that Jesus could no longer openly enter any town. But even though he stayed in the rural areas, people came to him from everywhere.

On a personal note - Jesus leaves Capernaum to announce the Good News to the most isolated and ignored families in the whole country. There he finds the lepers. At that time leprosy was considered as a contagious disease. Because of this, lepers had to live on the outskirts of the towns, far from the rest of the population. There was also a belief that leprosy was an affliction from God, and the Jewish religion declared lepers unclean.

By Jesus’ act, the flesh of the leper becomes clean. As a result of this, from that time on, he would be like others and people would no longer avoid him. Both people and the Law of God would acknowledge his dignity.

The Good News does not remain mere words but it effects a change. From then on, they would no longer be marginalized people.
Don’t tell anyone. Very often, particularly in the Gospel of Mark, Jesus gives this order to those who have just been cured of an evil. We must note, however, that Jesus does not give this order when he is outside Israel territory; and that the order is not given after the transfiguration.

Jesus imposed this silence during the first part of his public life because most of the people expected a warlike and vengeful Messiah. Jesus did not want any ambiguity about his mission. Only when Jesus had sufficiently distanced himself from this popular image of the Messiah, would he begin to reveal, first to his disciple, the mystery of his person.

For this same reason Mark, who differs from Matthew, rarely uses the expression “son of God.” Mark reserves it for the privileged moments of Jesus’ revelation to people: his baptism and transfiguration, and at the conclusion of the passion of the lips of centurion.


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