Friday, January 13, 2017

In the Octave of the Epiphany

Dear Fathers, Friends in Christ,

A leper came to him and kneeling down begged him and said, “If you wish, you can make me clean.” (Mark 1:40)

Let’s look at this healing story from three different dimensions: the spiritual dimension, the dimension of the soul, and the physical dimension. The physical dimension is the most obvious. We see a leper kneeling and Jesus stretching out his hand to touch the man. And we’re amazed to see skin regenerate and new flesh appear on once-brittle bones.

But operating just beneath this physical dimension is the realm of our soul—our thoughts and emotions. Because leprosy was thought to be contagious, this man had to be separated from his family and society. He lost his job and his loved ones. Emotionally, he must have felt desperate and hopeless. As for Jesus, his heart is wrenched with pity and compassion. He affectionately answers, “Be made clean” (Mark 1:41). The man’s body is healed, but just as important, his soul is healed. He can go home!

As for the spiritual dimension, Christians have always found in this story an allegory of the leprosy of sin that deadens our spirits—and of Jesus who redeems us. With a clean bill of health, this man can rejoin the worshipping synagogue. He has been restored to God!

You, too, are an incredibly multi-faceted creation, and God considers each dimension important. He cares for them all, and he wants to touch you on every level.
One of the best places this can happen is at Mass. That is where, more than any other place, you can connect to Jesus.

Think about how your body experiences the Mass. You receive Jesus’ presence as you “take and eat” the Eucharist. You kneel, you make the Sign of the Cross, you recite the creed, and you sing hymns. Your soul benefits when the Scriptures are proclaimed because your mind engages with the word of God. Finally, the Eucharist has the power to awaken your spirit and bring you closer to Jesus.

Every time you go to Mass—indeed, every time you celebrate any other sacrament—imagine yourself as the man in today’s Gospel. Imagine Jesus touching every part of you and bringing it to life!
“Lord, thank you for stretching out your hand to touch me.”

Hebrews 3:7-14

Psalm 95:6

Father Ed Bakker
Anglican Catholic Church / Original Province
Mission of Saint Aidan of Lindisfarne
Launceston on Tasmania
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