6th SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
February 15, 2009 Year: B
Lev. 13:1-2, 45-46; 1 Cor. 10:23-11:1; Mk 1:40-45
If you choose,
you can make me clean
"The Lord spoke to Moses and
Aaron saying: "When a person has on the skin of the body
a swelling or an eruption or a spot, and it turns into a
leprous disease on the skin of the body, that person
shall be brought to Aaron the priest or to one of his
sons the priests.
A person who has the leprous disease
shall wear torn clothes and let the hair of the head be
dishevelled; and they shall cover the upper lip and cry
out. 'Unclean, unclean.' A person shall remain unclean
as long as the disease persists; and being unclean, that
person shall live alone with a dwelling outside the
camp." [Lev. 13:1-2. 45-6]
"'All things are lawful', but
not all things are beneficial. 'All things are lawful,'
but not all things build up. Do not seek your own
advantage, but that of the other. Eat whatever is sold
in the meat market without raising any question on the
ground of conscience, for 'the earth and its fullness
are the Lord's.' If an unbeliever invites you to a meal,
and you are disposed to go, eat whatever is set before
you without raising any question on the ground of
conscience. But if someone says to you, 'This has been
offered in sacrifice,' then do not eat it, out of
consideration for the one who informed you, and for the
sake of conscience - I mean the other's conscience, not
your own. For why should my liberty be subject to the
judgment of someone else's conscience? If I partake with
thankfulness, why should I be denounced because of that
for which I give thanks?
Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you
do, do everything for the glory of God. Give no offence
to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God, just as I
try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking
my own advantage, but that of many, so that they may be
saved." [1 Cor. 10:23-11:1]
"A man with leprosy came to
Jesus begging him, and kneeling said to Jesus, 'If you
choose, you can make me clean,' Moved with pity, Jesus
stretched out his hand and touched him, and said to him,
'I do choose. Be made clean!" Immediately the leprosy
left him, and he was made clean.
After sternly warning him Jesus sent him away at once,
saying to him, 'See that you say nothing to anyone; but
go, show yourself to the priest, and offer for your
cleansing what Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.'
But the man went out and began to proclaim it freely,
and to spread the word, so that Jesus could no longer go
into a town openly, but stayed out in the country; and
people came to Jesus from every quarter." [Mk. 1:40-5]
Once when Emperor Yu, the founding
Emperor of the Xia Dynasty, went out to inspect his
kingdom, he saw a criminal being escorted to be
punished. He ordered his carriage to stop and asked,
"What crime did he commit?"
The guards said, "He was caught stealing
wheat and rice. We are taking him to the site for
Yu stepped out of his carriage. He came
to the criminal and asked, "Why did you steal?"
The criminal faced a very important
official and was so scared that he lowered his head and
said nothing. Yu did not get angry but continued to
advise him while shedding tears. The officials around
Emperor Yu could not understand and one of them asked,
"This person stole from others and should be punished.
Why is Your Majesty suffering so much as to be shedding
Yu said, "I am not crying for him but for
myself. When Yao and Shun were Emperors, all the
citizens followed their hearts and moral standards. Now
I am the Emperor, but my people are not following my
moral standards, committing crimes such as this and
hurting others. Seeing such a state of affairs in my own
kingdom greatly upsets me!"
Emperor Yu asked someone to bring a plate
and wrote "When citizens commit a crime, it is my
fault." He then ordered the guards to release the
"The person who has the leprous disease
shall wear torn clothes and let the hair of his head be
disheveled; and he shall cover his upper lip and cry
out, 'Unclean, unclean'. He shall remain unclean as long
as he has the disease; he is unclean. He shall live
alone; his dwelling shall be outside the camp." -
is not the task of fixing the entire world all at once,
but of stretching out to mend the part of the world that
is within our reach. Any small, calm thing that one soul
can do to help another soul, to assist some portion of
this poor suffering world, will help immensely. It is
not given to us to know which acts or by whom, will
cause the critical mass to tip toward an enduring good.
What is needed for dramatic change is an accumulation of
acts, adding, adding to, adding more, and continuing. We
know that it does not take everyone on Earth to bring
justice and peace, but only a small, determined group
who will not give up during the first, second, or
the most calming and powerful actions you can do to
intervene in a stormy world is to stand up and show your
soul. Soul on deck shines like gold in dark times. The
light of the soul throws sparks can send up flares,
builds signal fires, causes proper matters to catch
fire. To display the lantern of soul in shadowy times
like these - to be fierce and to show mercy toward
others; both are acts of immense bravery and greatest
necessity. Struggling souls catch light from other souls
who are fully lit and willing to show it. If you would
help to calm the tumult, this is one of the strongest
things you can do.
will always be times when you feel discouraged. I too
have felt despair many times in my life, but I do not
keep a chair for it. I will not entertain it. It is not
allowed to eat from my plate.
In that spirit, I hope you will write
this on your wall: When a great ship is in harbor and
moored, it is safe, there can be no doubt. But that is
not what great ships are built for.
Jesus fearlessly engaged himself in
liberating people. He acted and lived a life of service.
That is what we have to learn from Jesus.
St. Paul tells us something very similar.
Helping our neighbour, and glorifying God.
ďSo, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do
all to the glory of GodĒ (ESV).
I have heard others and I have often just
come to this verse and said, ďSee, everything we do has
to glorify God.Ē While that is the final logical point
of the verse, just making the statement actually misses
Paulís point in context.
From I Corinthians 8 to this
point, Paul has been discussing issues of conscience and
liberty. He had been trying to wade through the issues
of eating meats and especially meats offered to idols.
Through those chapters we learned that knowledge puffs
up and love edifies. We learned that we should take care
not to offend the conscience of our brethren. Further,
we even learned we should take care with our actions
because of the conscience of unbelievers (cf. I
Within this context, Paul is not just
making the statement that everything we do should
glorify God. Rather, he is saying that as we consider
how to pursue our liberties and how to preserve our
conscience and the conscience of others, the determining
factor is which choice will glorify God. It will glorify
God if I eat and give thanks to Him. However, it will
not glorify God even if I give thanks, if it causes a
brother or sister to stumble. It will not glorify God if
it causes an outsider to believe I pay homage to an
idol. I may have the liberty to eat whatever I want in
the strictest sense, but I must not simply consider my
hunger and my culinary tastes. I must consider whether
God will be glorified by pursuing this liberty.
Finally, as Paul continued, he pointed
out that glorifying God meant not giving offense to
either the Jews or the Greeks. In other words, donít
pursue your Christian liberties in a way that causes
Jews or Greeks to judge you as immoral or ungodly. Donít
invite a Jew into your home and set pork chops before
him (especially if you are a Jewish Christian, they will
view you as a traitor to God and will not listen to a
thing you have to say about Jesus). Donít eat something
a Gentile gives you if he makes a point to let you know
it was sacrificed to some idol. He may think you honor
that idol and will not learn the idol is no god at all.
Donít give offense to the church of God. In other words,
donít cause your brothers and sisters who are not as
knowledgeable to stumble.
Then he concludes, that instead of
seeking his own advantage, he is seeking the salvation
of others. This actually gets us back to yesterdayís
theme. What glorifies God the most? The salvation of the
Thus, the point about glorifying God
whether we eat or drink or whatever we do is that we
must not seek our own advantage, but serve others so
they can be saved and God glorified. Yes, once we
recognize that point, we get to the usual statement that
this means everything we do must glorify God, but it is
important to actually notice the logic that gets us
there. Because only then do we actually learn what Paul
wants us to do to glorify God. He wants us to be all
things to all people that by all means we might save
Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do
everything for the glory of God.