6th Sun B
The Commentaries Summarised
As a Church we are in a web of wisdom that comes to us both from tradition and contemporary writers. This section offers a summary of some commentaries on the Gospel. Also below is a list of the books and articles that have been consulted in compiling this Sunday's "Pray As You Can" and which could be used for further reading.
This Sunday's Commentary
On first reading, this story can appear to be quite straightforward but a little study and some reflection makes us realise how complex it is. The leprosy that the man had was not what we call leprosy, Hansen’s disease. Rather it was a skin condition that was interpreted as a sign of the man’s sinfulness. Given the strictures for isolating such afflicted people, this man took an enormous risk in approaching Jesus. The man does not so much make a request as state a fact: “If you want to…” The way this is said implies that Jesus has divine power. The Gospel manuscripts offer two different verbs for Jesus’ response: anger or a heart churning with compassion. Whichever interpretation you take, Jesus responds strongly. While his word alone heals, he reaches out and touches the man who couldn’t be touched without incurring his uncleanness. Rather than becoming unclean, he brings healing, cleanness and inclusion to the outcast.
It was held that curing a leper was almost as difficult as raising the dead so why does Jesus so strictly order the man to be silent concerning his cure? This is part of the Messianic secret that runs through Mark’s Gospel. While the miraculous can point to the presence of the divine in Jesus, faith based on miracles can fall short of true faith. The experience of a miracle is only the beginning of a journey to recognising the presence of God, not only in the ordinary, not only in the difficulties of life but also in Jesus as he dies on the cross, the ultimate outcaste.