My Dear Sisters and Brothers! We could easily detect the happiness of the man who was healed of his leprosy. In fact St Mark tells us that after leaving Jesus the man ‘started talking about it freely and telling the story everywhere.’ We could think that the cured leper was doing Jesus a favour by spreading the word of Jesus’ miraculous powers. What a great advertisement for Christ, isn’t it? However Jesus told the man: ‘Mind you say nothing to anyone.’ As if it were not enough Jesus sent the man to show himself to the priest and to make the offering prescribed for such a healing. The healing occurred in Galilee while the priests were in the Temple in Jerusalem. It was a few-day-journey. By sending the man to the other side of the country Jesus was trying to keep him from informing others about the miracle.
If you still treasure the Gospel from last Sunday you may be able to realise that what Jesus did in the Gospel for this Sunday, I mean his persistence on keeping his miraculous powers secret, wasn’t a separated incident. Last Sunday we heard that Jesus left Capernaum after healing many people and ‘denying’ many others a chance to be cured. Was Jesus cruel or ungenerous? Or was he concerned that people could reduce him to a physician fixing the brokenness of the body while leaving out the need to have their souls healed?
The proverb: ‘a sound mind in a sound body,’ which comes from ancient times, presupposes that it is the wellbeing of the body which ensures the wellbeing of the spirit, but what Jesus has revealed to us can be summarised in a completely different proverb: ‘a sound body in a sound mind.’ That’s why Jesus kept insisting on the necessity of faith and forgiveness of sins before the healing of the body occurred. It is the soul filled with divine grace which leads to the healing of the whole person. We know that perfect physical health doesn’t prevent people from meaningless of life, selfishness, pride, inability to commit to a lasting relationship, etc. While the soul reconciled with God and graced by his Spirit radiates the peace, love, faith and hope which nothing in this world can give or substitute.
Let me finish this homily by praying once again the Responsorial Psalm. The inspired author of the Psalm verbalised the healing which lasts for ever, the healing of the soul:
‘Happy the man whose offence is forgiven, whose sin is remitted.
O happy the man to whom the Lord imputes no guilt, in whose spirit is no guile.
But now I have acknowledged my sins, my guilt I did not hide.
I said: ‘I will confess my offence to the Lord.’
And you, Lord have forgiven the guilt of my sin.
Rejoice, rejoice in the Lord, exult, you just.
O come, ring out your joy, all you upright of heart.’
My Dear fellow Christians! May this ancient Psalm impart deeply in your heart. May it evangelise you with the Good News, touching you by Jesus’ Word and Sacraments deeper than the touch experienced by the leper from today’s Gospel.
Our happiness is not in the eradication of all diseases but in living in the closeness to the Lord. We can live this closeness when we are well and when we are ill. As St Paul catechised the Corinthians: ‘Whatever you do at all, do it for the glory of God.’