The reading for this Sunday, the Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time is how Jesus cured the Leper. Listen to their conversation:
Leper: “If you wish, you can make me clean.”
Jesus: “I do desire it. Be clean.”
Doctors do not heal people. They change the environment and the patient heals himself. The doctor does not heal a broken foot, but puts a cast on and the bone heals itself. The doctor does not heal a person from the common cold, but gives an anti-biotic, along with chicken soup. Chicken soup is an anti-inflammatory that helps ease the symptoms of the common cold. With the symptoms reduced, the body heals itself. The healing is a two-step process. First, the anti-biotic removes the contagion, and changes the environment. In the second step, the body regains its strength, healing itself.
The Hebrew word for “Leper” is “Sarah.” The Hebrew word for Egypt is “Me Sarah.” The root word means “Oppression.” Egypt is the land the land where the Jews were oppressed, enslaved. God saved the Jews from Egypt, but they did have to walk out on their own, and live forty years in the desert, cooking their own manna and quail. God created the conditions for the Jewish people to make that trip.
During the Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time, we will read the story of the paralytic from Mark 2:1-12. The article, “Bishop Straling’s homily on the statue with no hands, the paralytic, and the blind man,” argues, the paralytic is no guiltier of any sin than you, I or the person next door. The paralytic is the victim of child abuse. This is the problem of the first century and the twenty-first century Pharisee. “Who has the authority to forgive sin but God alone.” The first century, and the twenty first century Pharisee reinforces the negative environment of the abused, “Me Sarah,” paralytic/ leper.” His sin is forgiven; he must have sin.
“Bishop Straling’s homily on the statue with no hands, the paralytic, and the blind man,” interprets Jesus’ statement, “That you may know that the Son of Man has authority to forgive sins on earth…” “Son of Man” refers to everyman, not to Jesus alone. Jesus changes the paralytic’s environment. This allows him to walk again.
“Bishop Straling’s homily on the statue with no hands, the paralytic, and the blind man,” argues that Jesus is soon leaving that village. He cannot be the person who alone changes that environment. Only the villagers, we the readers of the passage, can do that. The secret is in Jesus’ actions toward the leper, “Moved with pity, Jesus stretched out his hand, and touched him.” The Greek word for “touch, first means to bind, or to cling. The article, “Who is smarter, us or the unclean spirits? You decide,” teaches from Deuteronomy 30, “God’s Mitzvah is not in our heads but in our hearts.” When are compassionate to our neighbor, our heart tells us how to change our environment, so he can heal.
The Television show, Cat Whisperer, has an episode about a cat feral, Minibar. People One does not properly speaking train cats, in particular feral cats. We change their environments. Jackson Galaxy does just that. Galaxy does not train the cat, but changes his cats environments and the cats heals themselves, becoming domesticated.
The story of the leper shows the same about humans. The US has 5% of the world’s population and 25% of its prison population. The solution is not locking these people away, nor is it trying to change these people. The solution is in changing their environment. Clint Eastwood has it right. This could be half-time in America. First, we must be willing to change our environment, and bring hope, real hope to all people.
If we change our environment, we change each other, making ourselves more domestic, more productive, employable, and kinder to each other. Let us do that today.