HOMILY OF THE SIXTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME YEAR B
Lev 13:1-2, 44-46, 1Cor 10:31-11:1, Mark 1:40-45
THEME: BREAKING THE BARRIERS
According to our first reading, stemming from the Leviticus law, a confirmed leper is unclean and must dwell alone in a habitation outside the Israel camp. He is an outcast.
However, the Lord Jesus has come to bring down every barrier of discrimination. The healing of the leper is a symbol and a sign of hope for those who live in the fringe of the society. Unlike the old belief that leprosy was incurable, Jesus showed us in the healing of the leper that, nothing should separate us from the love of God.
“Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, persecution, of famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, for your sake we are being killed all day long; we are accounted as sheep to be slaughtered.’ No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” Romans 8:35-37.
The symbolic meaning of leprosy is our sin which separates us from God and estranges us from the worshiping community. Through the sacrament of penance, having shown ourselves to the priest, he, standing in persona Kristi, reunites us to God our Father. Like the prodigal son, we are all expected to come back home. Having acknowledged our leprosy, we should approach God in the sacrament of reconciliation so as to insert ourselves into the community of believers once again.
More so, in our Eucharistic celebration, we all make the act of contrition when we say,
“I confess to almighty God and to you, my brothers and sisters, that I have greatly sinned, in my thoughts and in my words, in what I have done and in what I have failed to do.” Here, we confess to one another because, we know that our individual sin has implication in the life of our fellow believers. Our joy is that, in Jesus era, instead of separating those who have faulted from the rest of the community, we are brought together and given room for reconciliation.
Jesus knew what it means to be rejected by the society. Man is a social being. Jesus came to address whatever may strain our relationship with the rest of his community.
Moreover, the Lord Jesus challenges us in our attitude towards those who are suffering from infectious diseases, those who have one disability or the other, and those who in the social strata are regarded as lower citizens or are rejected as sinners. Those who are suffering from the stigma of osu caste system in eastern Nigeria have a place here. They need not suffer from discrimination.
Nevertheless, it is only those who acknowledge their leprosy that have the chance of subscribing for healing. We must always long to insert ourselves into the kingdom of God’s love and avoid whatever may separate us from the company of others. We must equally try all we can to be at the service of unity in our communities. We do this breaking every barriers that separate people from the family of God.
May the grace of God be sufficient for us that we may be agents of reconciliation in the church and in the world at large. Amen.