Gospel: Mark 1:40-45
A leper came to Jesus and begged him, “If you want to, you can make me clean.” Moved with pity, Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, “I do want to; be clean.” The leprosy left the man at once and he was made clean. As Jesus sent the man away, he sternly warned him, “Don’t tell anyone about this, but go and show yourself to the priest; and for the cleansing, bring the offering ordered by Moses; in this way, you will give to them your testimony.” However, as soon as the man went out, he began spreading the news everywhere, so that Jesus could no longer openly enter any town. But even though he stayed in the rural areas, people came to him from everywhere.
“Don’t tell anyone about this.”
The Gospel of Mark is famous for the secrecy in which Jesus cloaks his identity. Over and over again he performs some wondrous deed, but then enjoins the witness to keep quiet about what he or she has seen. Scholars have debated this running theme. Perhaps he wants to avoid the exact outcome described here: “that Jesus could no longer openly enter any town.” Perhaps he does not want to be dismissed or embraced as merely a “wonder worker.” Perhaps it is premature to disclose his Messianic identity until his disciples are able truly to understand what it means to be the Messiah. This is not a Messiah who comes in glory, but one who is going to suffer and die.Today is the feast of St. Anthony, one of the earliest of the desert fathers. Though St. Anthony went to great lengths of self denial, what impressed others was the “soul’s joy” that shone from his features. More important than recognition is to be recognized for the right reason.
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