First Reading Commentary
lepers are brought to the priest which on a spiritual level, then, makes
leprosy a figure of sin. Saint John
Chrysostom points out that the authority of priests in this Reading prefigures the authority that priests
would have to bind and loose sins in the New and Everlasting Covenant. Reading
The descriptive words used here to diagnose leprosy clearly indicate an unattractive appearance. In meditation and reflection it’s always nice to hold on to positive and uplifting images and thoughts; but once in a while, for the benefit of our souls, it’s wise to reflect on just how unsightly and hideous sin is. What does a soul look like that is marked with scabs, pustules and blotches?
The prophet Habakkuk, speaking of Almighty God, says: “Your Eyes are too pure to behold evil, and You cannot look on iniquity” (Habakkuk 1:13). In this
lepers are instructed to dwell apart, outside the camp. This is sin at its ugliest; the soul that is
unclean because of mortal sin makes its abode outside of God’s camp. That is not a comforting reality! Reading
Second Reading Commentary
In Saint Paul’s day there were concerns about the possibility that food was bought at the marketplace from an unbeliever or perhaps the animal used for meat had been sacrificed to pagan gods. In his Letter to the Romans, Saint Paul put these concerns to rest when he wrote: “He who eats, eats for the Lord, for he gives thanks to God. And he who does not eat, abstains for the Lord, and gives thanks to God” (Romans 14:6). Saint Paul is telling them to not let their concerns weigh on their consciences, but instead accept everything as being from the Lord and “do everything for the glory of God” because everything and everyone belongs to God (cf. Psalm 49 :10-12). Food and drink belong to God, therefore, eat and drink with a clear conscience. Accept even suffering as being from God - not literally from God but allowed by God, trusting that if He allows it, then it will benefit either our own soul or the soul of someone who is in dire need of assistance. This is our acceptance of Christ’s invitation to be co-workers in His work of redemption.
Paul writes: “Be imitators of me.” Our Lord has blessed His Church with many souls throughout the centuries who are worthy of imitation; and they are worthy of imitation because they imitated Christ. They followed the prescription of Saint John the Baptist: Christ increased and they decreased (cf. John 3:30).
Commenting on this Gospel, Nicholas of Lyra (1270-1340) points out, “It was not the intention of Christ, that he should not tell anybody; had that been His wish, he would easily have realized it; He spoke thus purposely, to show us that we ought not to seek the empty praises of men.”
Siding with the cured leper, the question must be asked of anyone who truly feels that the man was disobedient to our Lord: How could anyone who has been profoundly touched by Jesus Christ remain silent? By publicizing “the whole matter,” the man in reality was evangelizing, that is, bringing to others that very same Jesus Christ Who touched him so deeply.
In any effort to evangelize, there is no glory to be gained by seeking the praises of others since it is the Holy Spirit Who does the work; but if Christ is to be proclaimed by anyone, then it’s vital that the hearers see Jesus in that person.
Our Lord also told the man to offer the sacrifices prescribed because the law remained in full force until the Passion of Christ, in which was offered a perfect Sacrifice that did away with the sacrifices of the law; or better stated: the sacrifices of the old law found their fulfillment in the One Supreme Sacrifice of Christ. Jesus tells the man to show himself to the priest so that he may be reinstated into the religious community.
“It was impossible for Jesus to enter a town openly” because of His miraculous healings. Although Jesus performed many signs and wonders, this was not why He came. How many would remain loyal to the miracle Worker when He would later become the crucified Messiah? In today’s morally challenged world, how many still refuse to be lured by the wiles of the culture and continue to fight the good fight until Christ comes again in glory?