The letter from which we are reading these days in the scripture is written for the instruction and encouragement of those new Christians who were familiar with the Hebrew Scriptures and had been waiting for the coming of the Messiah. There are many references to the former rituals and history of the Jewish tradition.
We hear an allusion to a time in the past of rebellion and resistance. The author, who is believed not to be the Apostle Paul, urges the readers, "Encourage one another daily while it is still today so that no one grows hardened by the Deceiver." We ourselves likewise are encouraged to stay faithful to the end.
Mark presents Jesus healing a leper. "If You will to do so, You can cure me." It is a picture of one person's act of faith leading to healing of the body. "I do will it, be cured". What a wonderful response to a desperate plea. Jesus gives the cured person an order not to tell anybody, but the cure becomes public by the man's excitement which just can not be contained. This is not disobedience, but a dramatic technique which Mark uses to heighten the suspense about Who this Jesus is. It is somewhat of a secret and it is to be told little-by-little. Those who believe in Jesus will experience His universal love in secret and those healed, are the ones to tell the "Good News" to others.
The more the secret got out, the more people came to know and seek for Him.
We believe in Jesus and the ways we live are so many different ways of letting out the secret of His all-embracing care. We are charged by our faith in Jesus to go and let the Good News out where ever we are. "Encourage one another" echoes from the first reading. As Jesus encouraged the leper by healing Him, Jesus is healing us that we might be those who are freed to encourage others to faith and love.
We see today in the life of Jesus, a style of relating. He is available to be touched and to touch. He does not keep Himself isolated from the needs around Him. A Leper is symbolic of the unclean and unworthy. We as Christians believe that we have been cleansed from unworthy images of ourselves and others. For us, there are no more untouchable or marginal and we allow them to touch us, because He has touched us. We reverently touch, reach out to and bless those whom the world calls by names which Jesus did not call them.
Being faithful to the end means being available to the extremes of the human condition. As the first reading says in the last line, "We have become partners of Christ if only we maintain to the end the confidence with which we began."
We are partners of the Christ Whose secret remains to be told by those of us who have been freed from the leprosy of isolation, unworthiness and unavailability. In Him and through Him, we bless this world as His partners.
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