Sixth Sunday After Epiphany B
The Rev. Leonard Oakes
February 12, 2012
I see beautiful and handsome faces today. Look at those red dressess, they look gorgeous.
Those make ups and hair styles, they’re youthful!
Science and technology have changed the face of humanity today. What have been regarded as untreatable skin diseases can now make anyone back to their youthful look.
A story is told about a 50 year old woman who had a heart attack and was taken to the hospital. While on the operating table she had a near death experience. Seeing God she asked “Is my time up?”
God said, “No, you have another 40 years to live.”
Upon recovery, the woman decided to stay in the hospital and have a face-lift, liposuction, breast implants and a tummy tuck. She even had someone come in and …change her hair color and brighten her teeth! Since she had so much more time to live, she figured she might as well make the most of it. After her last operation, she was released from the hospital. While crossing the street on her way home, she was hit by an ambulance and proclaimed dead on the spot.
Arriving in front of God, she demanded, “I thought you said I had another 40 years? Why didn’t you pull me from out of the path of the ambulance?” God replied, “I didn’t recognize you”.
You see what I mean? Even God can’t recognize the handiwork of mankind caused by the advanced science.
It is very interesting to know that the disease leprosy has affected humanity for over 4, 000 years. Science and technology have changed a lot since the time of Elisha. Today, anyone who has skin disease and has the money may have an instant solution by visiting their dermatologist or plastic surgeon.
You see, during the time of Elisha, one of the remedies to cure leprosy is by going to the river Jordan, washed seven times and be cleansed. One could just imagine how the river would turn into after thousands of people washed themselves at the same time. I imagine that most of these people are travelers, who would venture to take weeks crossing a desert or mountain without water to clean their bodies, thus resulting to a skin disease. Try not taking a bath or shower for a week and you begin to feel itchy . (Amuyin mo nga yang katabi mo kung naligo?) Ask your neighbors if they took a shower this week? (Baka pabango lang yan) (Perfume). Today being Valentine’s Day, I’m sure all of you had your cleansing ritual.
During the time of Jesus, The leper who came to Jesus did something quite remarkable. He approached Jesus confidently and humbly, expecting that Jesus could and would heal him and make him whole again. Normally a leper would be stoned or at least warded off if he tried to come near a rabbi. Jesus not only grants the man his request, but he demonstrates the personal love, compassion, and tenderness of God in his physical touch. The medical knowledge of his day would have regarded such contact as grave risk for incurring infection. Jesus met the man’s misery with compassion and tender kindness. He communicated the love and mercy of God in a sign that spoke more expressively than words. He touched the man and made him clean – not only physically but spiritually as well. A process of transformation took place when Jesus said, “Be clean!”
It is in this context that we need to look at today’s Gospel reading and to take note of some of the details of what is said and done – both by the leper – and by Jesus.
First of all, we see the leper coming up to Jesus and falling on his knees before him. Lepers were not supposed to come that close to anyone during Jesus time. Then we hear the leper beg Jesus for something that at first hearing sounds like a plea for a physical healing – but is in fact much more than that. He says to Jesus, “If you choose, you can make me clean” In other words, “Jesus can restore him to normal human life if Jesus chooses” Jesus can bring him back into community, back into a normal relationship with other people; and be made acceptable to God.
“You can, if you want, restore my life and make me once again able to go anywhere I choose and not have everyone stare at me, everyone avoids me, everyone fears me, everyone talks about how unfortunate I am, if it is your will, it will be done.” As we see, Jesus breaks every rule about how one should protect oneself from someone with skin disease and reaches out his hand and touches the person and perhaps this is the first time that poor man has been touched in years.” And Jesus said “I am willing, be clean!” “immediately the leprosy left him and he was cured”
How about us here today? Are you willing? Are you willing to do what you can do. Are you willing to treat those whom others reject – those whom others fear- those whom others avoid – because of how they look or where they come from, or what disease they have as human beings who are worthy of being treated like all other human beings?
Are you willing to forgo judgments based on appearances, judgments about those who have AIDS, judgments about those who live in rags and sleep on the streets of our cities. Judgments about those who come from other nations, about those who are different in appearance and in background from us and see them as human, as people who are loved by God as much as you are loved by God, as people who need your touch and your word of love as much as you need the touch and the love of those who are near to you? Are you willing to be transformed?
Monica Pahulu had her experience of transformation when she allowed herself to join me in feeding the true homeless in San Francisco. Her eyes and conscience were awakened by the reality she witnessed and realized how blessed she is seeing there are those who have nothing, a hood, a shelter, food and water to clean themselves while she has everything.
Have you your own transformation? When you turn on the shower, the faucets, do you think about those who are deprived of it? When you serve the food in your plate and can’t finish them, do you think about those who are hungry? When you see a man in a dirty clothes and don’t have their looks your eyes are used to see, do you turn away without a smile and a word of greetings?
We can bring ourselves – and others – before Christ and pray for healing and pray for cleansing. We can treat one another as we would desire to be treated. We can love one another as God loves us. We can love one another as we love ourselves. We can love one another without fear. God was with Christ and gave him power over the most dreaded disease of his day. And God is with Christ still – to cleanse us and our world – and to make us part of one family,- to restore us fully to one another and to himself in life, in death, and in life beyond death.
In a moment from now, we will be witnessing an act of love to be offered to cancer patients who are deprived of hair due to chemotherapy and cancer cells. In your leaflets, you will find miraculous story of a Leighland Pailano who survived life at birth and now will offer back love to those who need them, those who lost their sense of security, self esteem, and compassion, by creating wigs from real human hair that is donated by caring individuals.
You may visit our website and click on the link to view Leighland’s profile link at LOCKS of LOVE Leighland
Let us love one another and be thankful to one another. Let that be our legacy to pass on to generations to come, for love extends beyond the boundless realm of eternity where the supreme architect of the universe forever presides.
So while you enjoy your chocolates and flowers, please remember the needs and wants of others.