11Jan 11 January, 2020. Saturday after the Epiphany

1st Reading: 1st Epistle of John 5:5-13

God has testified to his Son, Jesus, who grants victory over this world

Beloved:
Who is the victor over the world but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?
This is the one who came through water and Blood, Jesus Christ,
not by water alone, but by water and Blood.
The Spirit is the one who testifies,
and the Spirit is truth.
So there are three who testify,
the Spirit, the water, and the Blood,
and the three are of one accord.
If we accept human testimony,
the testimony of God is surely greater.
Now the testimony of God is this,
that he has testified on behalf of his Son.
Whoever believes in the Son of God
has this testimony within himself.
Whoever does not believe God has made him a liar
by not believing the testimony God has given about his Son.
And this is the testimony:
God gave us eternal life,
and this life is in his Son.
Whoever possesses the Son has life;
whoever does not possess the Son of God does not have life..

I write these things to you so that you may know that you have eternal life, you who believe in the name of the Son of God.

Responsorial: Psalm 147: 12-15, 19-20

Response: Praise the Lord, Jerusalem.

O praise the Lord, Jerusalem!
Zion, praise your God!
He has strengthened the bars of your gates,
he has blessed the children within you.

He established peace on your borders,
he feeds you with finest wheat.
He sends out his word to the earth
and swiftly runs his command.

He makes his word known to Jacob,
to Israel his laws and decrees.
He has not dealt thus with other nations;
he has not taught them his decrees.

Gospel Luke 5:12-16

Jesus heals the man covered in leprosy, and sends him to the priest, to witness it

It happened that there was a man full of leprosy in one of the towns where Jesus was; and when he saw Jesus, he fell prostrate, pleaded with him, and said, “Lord, if you wish, you can make me clean.” Jesus stretched out his hand, touched him, and said, “I do will it. Be made clean.” And the leprosy left him immediately.

Then he ordered him not to tell anyone, but “Go, show yourself to the priest and offer for your cleansing what Moses prescribed; that will be proof for them.” The report about him spread all the more, and great crowds assembled to listen to him and to be cured of their ailments, but he would withdraw to deserted places to pray.

BIBLE

May your words, O Lord, be in my thoughts, on my lips, and in my heart. May they guide my life and keep me near to you.


Touching the leper

The Lord demonstrates what it means to minister to others, to really serve them. After calling the first fishermen to follow him, Jesus showed them what it means to be fishers of men. The people he set out to “catch” or engage with his message were not the political and social celebrities, people who were well-off and influential, but primarily the poor and the neglected. Tax collectors, prostitutes, Gentiles, and thieves were drawn to Jesus, for they found him encouraging their dignity and not condemning them. In today’s story, he reaches out one of the most rejected groups of all, people suffering from the dreaded disease of leprosy. This shows us Jesus as a life-giver and healer. He wanted to do exactly what he had said in the Synagogue in Nazareth, to heal, mend, restore, and set free.

“In one of the towns”: Luke does not specify where, but presumably in Galilee, he meets someone who really should not have been there, for a person afflicted with leprosy was obliged to stay far away from other people, to avoid infecting them. Lepers were strictly commanded to live apart from society, and to cry “Unclean! Unclean!” if approached by people (Lev 13:45). They were “untouchables” in every sense of the word, despised, forsaken, judged and condemned.

Maybe the man had ignored convention in order to search for Jesus, and when he saw him he fell down and begged, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.” How did he recognize Jesus? Perhaps, as the crowds gave way before the leper, it was only Jesus who did not move aside, but let the diseased man come right up to him. This man never doubted that God could heal him. His request is like that of Naaman who asked the prophet Elijah to cleanse him of his leprosy.

Before replying, Jesus reached out his hand and touched him. This would have shocked both the leper and the onlookers, for rabbis and priests in particular must carefully avoid lepers, so as not to become ceremonially unclean. But such a shocking action allowed Jesus to show his acceptance and compassion to one who had not received such love in a long time. As pope Francis has told us, this kind of “pastoral” risk-taking shows what is needed to be a fisher of men.


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