READINGS: Leviticus 13:1-2, 44-46/ 1 Corinthians 10:31-11:1/ Mark 1:40-45
What in the world is happening?
Is biblical prophesy happening before our very eyes?
Are we in the midst of an end-time plague of biblical proportions?
Or is this Corona Virus thing simply a sign of spiritual leprosy that has been growing in the human condition since the beginning of creation?
Everyone around the world has been on a wild ride for the past year. Seemingly there’s no relief in sight. Similar to Leprosy in ages past, an ancient infectious disease, we’re being told that there is no cure. In spite of the fact that we now have three vaccines, our governments and the mainstream media are telling everyone that it doesn’t mean that we’re making any headway in slowing the spread. We’re being told “keep masking,” “social distancing,” that we’re all unclean. Keep in mind that the recovery rate for a disease that left untreated is actually higher than 99%.
Did you know that there is a disease that’s even more deadly? It is a condition that if left untreated is always and everywhere 100% fatal. My sisters and brothers, unrepentant sin is a spiritual malaise that like Leprosy, rots our souls, and leads to eternal damnation.
Just like the example of Leprosy, where people so infected must separate themselves from the community, we’re currently being told that the whole world is “unclean.”
In both the first and gospel readings, leprosy is mentioned. Leprosy, like the Wuhan Virus (CoViD-19), is an infectious disease. Our Lord Jesus Christ, according to the gospel reading, demonstrates an absolute healing power over leprosy: the leper experienced instant and total healing with the touch and word of Jesus (Mark 1:41-42).
Beloved, the consistent teaching in the gospels show that Jesus’ absolute power over the infectious disease of leprosy has a deeper meaning for us. For instance, in John Chapter 6, when Jesus multiplied five loaves and two fish to feed the crowd of thousands, He wanted them to understand that He is the bread of life. Then, in healing the man born blind, Jesus wanted the people to understand that He is the light of the world (John 9:5). Similarly, in demonstrating His absolute power over leprosy, Jesus teaches us that He has absolute power over the spiritually infectious disease of sin: He is the one prophesied of old, the Lamb of God who died on the cross to take away the sin of the world (cf. John 1:29).
Like Leprosy and CV-19, sin is an infectious disease. Infectious diseases like leprosy and the China Virus impact negatively on the health of an individual and they spread from a person to another. Similarly, sin has an adverse effect on our spiritual health and it spreads from one to another. Yes, in spite of the political manipulation and unscientific response to Covid-19, that disease is real, and people die — this is analogous to the effects of sin on our soul. The effects of sin can be deadly, and left untreated leads to spiritual death; yes spiritual death and the prospect of an eternity in HELL is real.
Indeed, sin as a spiritual infectious disease is more deadly than leprosy, COVID-19, or any other physical infectious disease. This is because, firstly, its deadly effect on the individual could be eternal. As leprosy, for instance, disfigures a person physically, so sin disfigures us in spirit. We become no longer the “image and likeness” of the all-holy God – we become something else.
Again, as physical leprosy makes its victims lose their fingers, toes, etc., so sin makes us lose the wholeness of our souls. Though souls cannot be quantified, for the sake of a vivid description of the conditions of our souls negatively affected by sins, one could say that some have become ½, ¼, 1/10, etc. of the original souls God created for us. So, whereas leprosy disfigures one’s body, and COVID-19 does more damage to internal human organs, sin does the most damage as it kills our spiritual internal “organ”, the soul. In short, sin can kill our soul eternally.
Secondly, while for instance, due to the manufactured political response, the impact of COVID-19, the costs to humanity includes the loss of jobs, businesses, good health, physical lives, etc., the adverse effect of sin is even greater: the loss of God’s grace, His fellowship and eventually, heaven, to mention a few.
Regarding the loss of heaven, St. Paul cautions us: “Now the works of the flesh are obvious: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these. I am warning you, as I warned you before: those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God” (Gal. 5:19-21). Remember, the Apostle was warning “saved” Christians here — folks who were ”in” the CURCH of Galatia. People outside of the Church are already judged and found wanting without Christ.
Thirdly, whereas leprosy and CoViD-19 can infect a large number of people who come into contact with each other, the infection capacity of sin is not only transgenerational, it is from Adam and Eve until Christ will come again. Thus, St. Paul affirms: “sin came into the world through one man, and death came through sin, and so death spread to all because all have sinned” (Rom. 5:12) and again, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). Whereas with time the CoViD-19 pandemic will come to an end, the sin pandemic will continue until Christ comes again.
In the midst of this spiritual pandemic, we have some Good News. Yes, sin is a deadly infectious disease, but there is a cure — Jesus can heal us of the spiritual infections of sin!
According to today’s gospel reading, to be healed, the leper expressed faith in Jesus: “if You are willing, You can make me clean” (Mark 1:41). So, our first step towards receiving the Lord’s healing or forgiveness of our sins is to have faith in Him.
After healing the leper, Jesus told him: “go, show yourself to the priest, and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded” (Mark 1:44). Thus, Jesus asked the healed leper to observe the directives of the Law of Moses (cf. Lev. 13:1-2, 44-46; the first reading). Similarly, we must observe certain spiritual directives if we wish to prevent the infections of sins, such as “doing the will of the Father,“ and avoiding sin.
So, my friends, if we have been infected by the spiritual virus of sin, let us isolate ourselves. That is, let us create a spiritual space for ourselves in a quiet place (the church or home) to reflect on how our sins offend God and negatively impact ourselves and others, let us humble ourselves and pray.
Secondly, just as we would report to health professionals, if we suspect that we have been infected by the corona-virus, so Jesus instructs us to see the priest. Beloved, let us see the priest to confess the sin we have committed (cf. James 5:14-16). The complete restoration of the skin health of Naaman, the leprous Syrian army officer, gives a vivid picture of the spiritual restoration we enjoy when our sins are forgiven upon confession. After washing seven times in the River Jordan, his skin became “like that of a little child” (2 Kings 5:14-17). Similarly, when the Lord forgives our sins, our souls are restored to the innocence of a baptized child.
Next, as social distancing is required to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, so let us distance ourselves from people who either lead us into temptation or in whose company we fall into sin. Attending Church regularly is helpful in this, along with frequent reception of the Eucharist — the Body and Blood of our Lord. Just as certain food elements or vitamins boost our immune systems against CoViD-19, so the Eucharist along with our good deeds, especially, charitable works boost the immunity of our spirits against the infection of sin.
Finally, our souls are infected by the virus of sin when our minds and hearts entertain and succumb to temptations. Therefore, our minds and hearts are like the hands which carry the corona-virus into our nostrils and mouths. So, with the Living Water (Holy Spirit) and the precious blood of Jesus as soap, may our minds and hearts be always sanitized.
FIRST READING -- Leviticus 13:1–2, 44–46
The LORD said to Moses and Aaron, “If someone has on his skin a scab or pustule or blotch which appears to be the sore of leprosy, he shall be brought to Aaron, the priest, or to one of the priests among his descendants. If the man is leprous and unclean, the priest shall declare him unclean by reason of the sore on his head. “The one who bears the sore of leprosy shall keep his garments rent and his head bare, and shall muffle his beard; he shall cry out, ‘Unclean, unclean!’ As long as the sore is on him he shall declare himself unclean since he is in fact unclean. He shall dwell apart, making his abode outside the camp.”
1 Corinthians 10:31—11:1
Brothers and sisters, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God. Avoid giving offense, whether to the Jews or Greeks or the church of God, just as I try to please everyone in every way, not seeking my own benefit but that of the many, that they may be saved. Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.
GOSPEL -- Mark 1:40–45
A leper came to Jesus and kneeling down begged him and said, “If you wish, you can make me clean.” Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand, touched him, and said to him, “I do will it. Be made clean.” Leprosy left him immediately, and he was made clean. Then, warning him sternly, he dismissed him at once. He said to him, “See that you tell no one anything, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer for your cleansing what Moses prescribed; that will be proof for them.” The man went away and began to publicize the whole matter. He spread the report abroad so that it was impossible for Jesus to enter a town openly. He remained outside in deserted places, and people kept coming to him from everywhere