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Michael Maher S.J.Feb 11, 2024 12:00:00 AM1 min read

11 February 2024

Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

The first reading and the Gospel speak of the issue of leprosy. Now a somewhat rare and curable disease,  leprosy existed in warm climates where the weather served as an incubator for the disease. Although ignorant of its causes, ancient societies quickly learned that vicinity propagated the disease. Separation was the solution, and cleanliness and its opposite being “unclean” became a criteria for accepteance into society.  

Although leprosy exists in rare circumstances, sociologists are quick to point out that the reality of cleanliness and purity widely understood still exists in a society. In fact, one of the ways in which a society understands persons is judging who are considered “clean” and “pure” and distinguishing itself against the opposite.  Thus “cleanliness” and its consequent “acceptance” go hand in hand. No sane person would protest the importance of handwashing but there are facets of our society and our own lives that make judgements concerning others and their acceptability that do not fit into the way Jesus looked at humanity. Perhaps the most traumatic events of our growing up were being not included or to be “unclean.”  

Today’s gospel challenges our own notions of what we accept and what we distance. Clearly, distance, handwashing, and quarantines have their place. Our job is the application of these methods in an appropriate manner and not to use them to distance ourselves from those members of the human community that perhaps deserve our attention.