The “Cleaner”

A leper came to him and kneeling down begged him and said,
“If you wish, you can make me clean.”
Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand,
touched the leper, and said to him,
“I do will it. Be made clean.”
The leprosy left him immediately, and he was made clean.
Then, warning him sternly, he dismissed him at once.
Then 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.
(Mark 1:40-45)

Scripture Study

1:40 a leper The Greek word used here, lepros, identifies a person afflicted by a skin disease. Leviticus categorizes such individuals as ritually unclean and prohibits them from coming in contact with other Israelites during their illness (Lev 13:1–46). If you wish, you can make me clean Jesus already demonstrated His ability to eliminate uncleanness when He expelled the demonic spirit at Capernaum (Mark 1:21–28). Now, a man with a different type of impurity seeks cleansing, and Jesus’ success confirms that God’s rule overcomes all obstacles to health and holiness.

1:41 moved with pity In a few ancient manuscripts, the Greek word splanchnizō, which refers to being moved with pity, replaces the term orgizō, which indicates anger. However, the substitution likely reflects a later change by a copyist, to avoid the difficulty of this verse. Jesus affirms His desire to cleanse the man, indicating He is not upset by the leper’s plea. touched him Jesus’ physical contact with the leper, followed by His immediate cleansing of him, emphasizes that Jesus’ spirit of holiness is more powerful than the uncleanness generated by the skin disease (compare Lev 13–14). Rather than Jesus becoming unclean, He makes the leper clean.

1:44 tell no one anything The first of many such requests that Jesus will make so people do not reveal His identity as the Messiah before the time intended by God (see Mark 5:43; 8:30; 9:9). Most of these requests achieve the opposite effect: Instead of staying silent, the people broadcast what He has done for them (7:36), forcing Him to go elsewhere to minister. what Moses prescribed Refers to a sequence of two sacrificial offerings God mandated to mark a diseased individual’s healing and reintegration into the community (Lev 14:1–32). Jesus has already cleansed the man. Now, the priest must directly examine him to certify that the source of uncleanness has indeed gone.

1:45 impossible for Jesus to enter a town openly Probably due to Jesus’ increasing popularity, not opposition.

Scripture Reflection

Although leprosy has been virtually wiped out in developed nations, the loneliness and social stigma attending various physical or interior afflictions—for instance, AIDS or mental illness—is as widespread as ever. Indeed, leprosy is only an outward sign of the inner uncleanness experienced by all fallen human beings. The defilement of sin often causes a deep inner shame, even when a person is not consciously aware of it, that makes a person hesitant to turn to God.

But as this man’s boldness in approaching Jesus was richly rewarded, so is the prayer of all those who approach him with confidence in his cleansing power, especially through the sacrament of reconciliation. Jesus is not dismayed, scandalized, or contaminated by any human defilement. He willingly removes it by the power of his own holiness, restoring our communion with others and making us fully qualified to enter into God’s presence.

– Mary Healy

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.