First Reading: Lv 13:1-2, 44-46
Psalm: Ps 32:1-2, 5, 11
Second Reading: 1 Cor 10:31, 11:1
Gospel: Mk 1:40-45
After Jesus heals the leper he tells the leper not to tell anyone about it, but only to go present himself to the High Priest in accordance with Mosaic Law. Why does he do this? Why does he tell the leper not to tell anyone about him?
Biblical scholars refer to this phenomenon as “the Messianic Secret.” The Jews of the 1st century had inherited the promise of a Messiah from their ancestors, and they were absolutely exhausted with living under the oppressive rule of foreign kings. As they understood it, the Messiah would come and destroy all foreign kings. Many Jews envisioned a political Messiah who would wipe out all occupying forces and establish a strong, just government in Jerusalem—like David, but a thousand times better. Jesus knew, as we know, that what he offers is something that both fulfills that hope and yet supersedes it at the same time. His aim is to heal and convert the hearts of all people, Jewish or otherwise, and re-create everyone as true children of God. Injustice and oppression disappear from the world Jesus has planned for us—they are no longer possible! In commanding the leper to keep quiet, Jesus is signaling that he is not interested in creating a new political party or just another earthbound government doomed ultimately to crumble in the hands of sinful man.
Do we want what Jesus wants?