Archbishop’s Teaching

2nd Sunday of Lent Mark 1/35-45

Great Lent period
2nd Sunday of Lent
Homily of His Excellency Selim Sfeir
Maronite Archbishop of Cyprus

Healing of the Leper
Mark 1/35-45

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

Leprosy is one of the Bible's incurable infectious diseases for which there is
no cure. The leper was condemned to leave the community and live with the
lepers outside the city until he was cured and examined by the priest to confirm
his recovery. The leper wore a bell around his neck and did not approach
people. If he met anyone on his way, he had to shout at the top of his voice:
"Impure, impure! So that no one would approach him and the infection would
not be transmitted. The greatest fear among the ancients was a form of leprosy
that would corrode the body and lead to death. God alone was the leper's refuge
and healer.
The leper referred to by Mark the Evangelist, like the other lepers, lived outside
the city and did not dare approach people, but he followed the news of this
Master who went around, healing and doing good. The text gives us some
important keys to reading his behavior and attitude towards Jesus.

Firstly, he was not afraid to approach Jesus, and so we see that this outcast
leper saw Jesus as a source of hope and acceptance for him. He did not
condemn him, categorize him or fear approaching him because of the disease
that was destroying his body.

Secondly, he came to Jesus on his knees, and kneeling before Jesus is a
declaration of his awareness that Jesus is superior to the rest of humanity and
that indeed, for him, he is "the power of God", so he realizes that he has no
other refuge but God to be saved from his mortal illness, he comes to Jesus.
Thirdly, "If you will, you can make me clean", this expression indicates the
exhaustion of all human means of healing for this leper and his surrender to
God's will. If God wills it, only God can heal him.
Here, God's love and compassion for man are revealed to us: Jesus reaches out
and touches him! Then comes the great response: "I will it, be pure", revealing
the heart of God to us.
In Christianity, leprosy symbolizes sin, and all humanity is affected by spiritual
leprosy, which is sin. The Holy Bible teaches us that all human beings are
sinners, as the apostle Paul says in his letter to the Romans: "For all have sinned
and fall short of the glory of God". (Romans 3:23) Similarly, the Old Testament
prophet Isaiah says: "We all wandered like sheep, each following his own way;
and the Lord laid on him the iniquity of us all". (Isaiah 53:6) Consequently,
humanity is doomed to spiritual death, which is separation from God!
Consequently, the sinner is like Adam after his fall, for he becomes a wanderer
far from God's Paradise and is afraid to approach Him like a leper.
This leper is the image of each one of us, we who are afflicted with the leprosy
of sin, and through his behavior he teaches us important lessons for our lives.
May we, like him, realize that Jesus is the source of our hope, and that it is He
who loves us despite our distance from Him. He accepts us and does not reject
us if we come to him on our knees and ask his forgiveness. Let's remember
what it says in the Bible: "God proves his love for us, in that while we were
still sinners, Christ died for us." (Romans 5:8) In the same way, the apostle John
tells us: "God's love for us was shown in that God sent his only Son into the
world, so that we might live through him. And this love is not that we loved
God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins."
(1 John 4:9-10)
May we realize that our healing from the leprosy of sin is God`s will for us,
because God "wants all men to be saved..." (1 Timothy 2:4.) Yes, He does, and "He
is longsuffering toward you, not willing that any should perish, but that all
should come to repentance." (2 Peter 3:9)
May we, like this leper, surrender our lives to him, so that he can recreate them
anew! Kneel before Him, hoping for salvation from Him, for He alone is able
to heal the leprosy of our lives. Amen

† Selim Sfeir
Maronite Archbishop of Cyprus

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