Jesus attracts our attention to God’s kingdom

PARMA, ITALY - APRIL 16, 2018: The fresco Jesus healing the ten lepers in byzantine iconic style in Baptistery probably by Grisopolo from 13. cent. (iStock)

Reflection on Mass readings for Feb. 11 (6th Sunday in Ordinary Time)


Leviticus 13:1-2, 44-46

Psalm 32:1-2,5,11

1 Corinthians 10:31-11:1

Mark 1:40-45


Our Gospel reading this weekend opens with the line, “A leper came to Jesus and kneeling down begged him and said, ‘If you wish, you can make me clean’” (Mk 1:40).

To put this into perspective, according to Jewish law, the leper was supposed to stay apart from others and proclaim himself unclean, so people could avoid him and remain ritually clean.

Jesus had just come from Capernaum after curing Peter’s mother-in-law, curing many of the people in the town, and driving out demons. He was now taking the disciples to other towns, continuing to cure people and drive out demons.

The leper must have encountered Jesus and his disciples on the road between villages, since he couldn’t go into them. With great courage he approached Jesus, and after he spoke, Jesus did something that probably shocked the disciples: “He stretched out his hand, touched him, and said to him, ‘I do will it. Be made clean’” (Mk 1:41). Jesus then told the leper to go show himself to the priest and offer the prescribed offering, and not to tell anyone about the miracle.

Then the leper did exactly what Jesus asked him not to do. He went and told people all over the region what had happened. Jesus knew that others had spread word of his miracles; Jesus also would have known the leper was going to tell everyone he could about the miracle.

Jesus was just starting his public ministry. He was new in town. When something new comes to town, one way it attracts people is to offer some great deal or something special; then after people experience it, they come back – not for the deals – but because it was an enjoyable experience, it meant something to them.

Jesus wanted people to follow him. He wanted to share the kingdom of God with everyone.  However, he first needed to get their attention. What would have happened if Jesus called the disciples and said, “Come follow me and die for me”? Would that have attracted them? Would that attract you? Would you use that phrase to call people to faith?

Jesus’ message of the kingdom was different from that of the establishment. What better way to get people to come and hear his message than for the story of these miracles to spread, not secondhand or through hearsay, but through a firsthand account by a recipient of one of his miracles?

Is it possible that the purpose of Jesus’ miracles was not only to feed the hungry and heal the sick and make them whole, but also to attract people to hear about the kingdom of God?

Jesus offered the people of his time new life in the kingdom of God. When they came to him, he accepted them, healed them and fed them. He showed them how to live, how to care for others and accept others.

We are called to new life in the kingdom, to live like Jesus. In the reading from Corinthians, Paul tells us to be imitators of Jesus (1 Cor 11:1). Imitating Jesus means dying to self and rising to new life in Christ; responding to the call to serve others; to share the kingdom of God with them.

Do we respond to this call because of miracles, or because we have found new life in Jesus and want to share it?


Deacon Christopher Colville serves at Church of the Redeemer, Mechanicsville.


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