1st Thursday in Ordinary Time
Heb 3: 7 – 14; Ps 95; Mark 1: 40 – 45
Ps. 23 proclaims: “The Lord is my shepherd…He is true to His name.” I believe the truth of this verse is very much at the heart of the Gospel passage. The leper, condemned to a living death whose only escape was death itself is given new life. He kneels, he begs – it is his only hope: “If You wish, You can make me clean.” His plea is heart rending. “Moved with the deepest pity” Jesus’ immediate response is to approach him, touch him “I do will it. Be made clean.”
In an instant, his life is changed, the living death is no more, human life is restored. Jesus is true to His name: He is mercy, compassion incarnate. He responded to the man’s plea because He hears the cry of the poor. As Psalm 103 proclaims: “…He heals every one of your ills, who crowns you with love and compassion” – This is His name.
Then Jesus, in another voice, warns him sternly before dismissing him: “See that you tell no one, but show yourself to the priest…” In this Jesus is also true to His name. Recall the scene when John, in prison, sent disciples to Jesus to inquire, “Are you ‘he who is to come’?” Jesus replied, “What do you hear and see; the blind recover their sight, cripples walk, lepers are cured…and the poor have the good news preached to them.” (Matt 11: 2ff)
Regarding Jesus, people were easily taken up with the miracles, the healings and losing sight of the good news – the message of salvation. Jesus, true to His name and true to His relationship with the Father in the Spirit, could not let people see him primarily as a miracle worker as the one who would make earthly life pleasant and convenient. To allow this to happen Jesus would not be true to Himself, His Father, His mission and identity.
In His public ministry Jesus revealed His identity in various ways; He spoke of Himself “I AM the Way, the Truth and the Life.” This is who He is, this is the truth of His name; it is upon this that we believe in Him, follow Him, obey and receive Him. We have experienced His truth.
By God’s grace and our commitment this is the our greatest undertaking and, undoubtedly, the privilege of our lives to follow Him into the unfolding of the Way, the Truth and the Life – following Him who is always and everywhere “true to His Name.” As the passage from Hebrews proclaims: “We have become partners of Christ if only we hold the beginning of the reality firm until the end.” (3: 14)