6th Sunday in Ordinary Time
The scripture today gives us help as we prepare for Lent which starts on Wednesday.
The rules about Leprosy in the first reading make it clear that if you had leprosy you were an outcast. You must live apart from every one and warn people to keep away from you, shouting unclean, unclean. And indeed according to Jewish law if anyone touched you or your clothes they too become unclean, an outcast.
So what does Jesus do in the gospel when the leper asks him for help? He stretches out his hand and touches him. To cure the unclean Man Jesus becomes unclean himself. On one level we see a prophecy of the cross here. To rescue us from sin and death Jesus carries the burden of our sin and dies on the cross. On another level a simple teaching that however isolated, sinful or unclean we are Jesus is willing to be with us.
That’s the first help for Lent. During Lent let Jesus reach out and touch us. No matter how awful or embarrassing our sins, no matter how complicated or painful our problems - don’t keep Jesus away, say to him ‘if you want to you can cure me’ and he will reply ‘of course I want to’ and will stretch out his hand to touch us.
The second help is that simple phrase from St Paul. ‘Whatever you do at all, do it for the glory of God’. What a great lent we would make if everything we did was done for the glory of God.