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Greetings to all who love to wander along the paths of the Holy Scriptures! The purpose of this blog is to share some of the insights of ordinary Catholics who have begun to delve into the mysteries of the Sacred Scriptures. Hopefully you will find these reflections inspiring and insightful. We are faithful to the Church, but we are not theologians; we intend and trust that our individual reflections will remain within the inspired traditions of the Church. (If you note otherwise please let me know!) Discussion and comments are welcome, but always in charity and respect! Come and join us as we ponder the Sacred Scriptures, which will lead us on the path into His heart, which "God alone has traced" Job 28:23.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Unclean! Unclean!

A Reflection on Mark 1:40-41

By Heidi Knofczynski

In biblical times the fate of a leper under the Law was dire.   It was a living death really, the leper was cast out of society as his illness slowly ate away his numbed flesh.  A more horrific or hopeless situation is hard to imagine.  This harsh fate is justified by the fact that leprosy was considered highly contagious, it was thought that a mere touch was all it took to spread the disease. The communtiy was quite helpless to cure it, or to stop its spread.   Who could have the power to heal and re-form such horrific disfigurement?

Erasmo Leiva-Merikakis (or Brother Simeon as he is now known to the Trappist Monks of Saint Joseph’s Abbey) so beautifully puts it in Fire of Mercy/ Heart of the Word: 
“Where men flee the leprous contagion, the divine compassion seeks it, is only at home on earth where its impulse to heal can go about its work.”

he shall cry out, ‘Unclean, unclean!’

The destruction caused by sin in our souls is beyond the conception of most of us, particularly us modern folk.  We are numb to the disfigurement of our divine image, and even if we have moments of awareness, there are too many superficial comforts that are easier to access, too many false identities that divert us from the integral healing that Christ has for us. But God never gives up on us. He allows us to go through times of desolation and darkness to prompt us to seek Him, and to show us how desperately we need Him.  I have spent miserable nights, days and even weeks when every sin, every failing, rises up to condemn me.  I feel the accusations so acutely that I cannot even formulate a prayer, I don't feel worthy.  I simply accept the debased image of myself that is presented to me.  Until I can't any longer.  Until the weight of His presence and His power calls out to me, and I know all the flaccid Jesus platitudes that are offered to sinners like me do not heal, even if they pretend to "accept" and "include" me, they only continue to allow the process of spiritual isolation to slowly overtake me.  Leprosy is an apt comparison to the progressive damage of sin.  And in our post Christian culture the spiritual leprosy of our time is growing.   It leads to false pride, and when that fails, to isolation and despair.   Who can save us?


A leper came to Jesus and kneeling down begged him and said,
“If you wish, you can make me clean.

The work of the divine Healer is always more amazing when we contemplate how deep it goes.  In healing this poor leper in the Gospels show us not only the Lord’s divine compassion, which He expressive with an intimacy of presence that only One with divine authority over creation could dare to have, but we also see how the Lord draws out fortitude, heroism and courage as part of the true healing that is sought.  These are virtues that each of us needs to have restored, because we are made in His image and likeness -- fallen though we may be.  Jesus does not just heal physically --  He does not just regenerate rotting flesh, but He heals integrally, restoring life to our soul and dignity to our humanity.

The leper had to break through the isolation of his station in life and endure whatever hostility he aroused as he breaks with convention and himself to be drawn to Jesus in a more profound and personal way.  This is what may be in store for us as we seek His healing.  Because we too must break through the hostility of a world that has isolated and wounded us.  We must struggle to resist the fleshly desires that have enticed and enslaved us.  We must let go of the resentments and fear that anchor us to our brokenness.  We must be wary of the deceits of the devil who uses every tactic possible to divert us from being drawn into His intimate healing touch.

Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand, touched him, and said to him,
“I do will it. Be made clean.


 Yes ,the obstacles are formidable, but His divine power is greater -- submit to it.  His divine compassion is deeper-- seek it.  His divine healing is ultimately one that recreates our debased, disfigured souls. Hearken back to the power of the divine Word commanding the light to break forth at the dawn of time; the same divine command seperating the light from the darkness; the divine hand that formed man out of clay into His image and likeness and breathed His life into him. That same power that hovered over the waters in the beginning now stretches out his hand over the leper and commands  "Be made clean.”

Give one area of sin to the Lord this Lent. and don't give up no matter how many times you fail.  When fears arise or when self-condemnation or self-pity overwhelm you with the accusation that you are “unclean” don’t shrink back,.  Go to Him in prayer, in sacramental confession, in the Mass and submit yourself to Him saying if you will it”  and trust.  Because from the depth of His divine love He does will it.  He said so.

“I do will it. Be made clean.”

Glory to God!  Heidi

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