THE SIXTH SUNDAY AFTER THE EPIPHANY
FEBRUARY 12, 2012
The Very Reverend Donald W. Krickbaum
2 KINGS 5: 1-15b — 1 CORINTHIANS 9:24-27 — MARK 1:40-45
This is the season of Epiphany, the time when the light of Christ is made known to the world. Now is the time for us to shine the light of Christ into this darkened world in which we are living. Today and throughout this liturgical season of Epiphany, we are hearing stories of healing – one of the means through which Jesus expressed the authority and the love of God in a given moment. We hear later in Mark’s Gospel, how Jesus spoke of his coming passion and death, inviting those who loved him to take up the cross and follow him. We watch as he broke bread with his disciples for the last time and was immediately arrested and executed. And then, we stand before the empty tomb early on Easter morning to be told that he is alive, he is risen. It is a powerful and soul-shaking story. Sit down and read Mark’s Gospel right through. It is not very long, and you will be overwhelmed by the story as it unfolds before you all at one time.
If you do that, you will be caught up in the truth that the kingdom of God is right here, right now. A sense of immediacy and urgency will overtake you and you will see the true mission of Jesus to show us who this God is and what God is like, and how we are to live if we choose to be a part of the story. We are living in a world where we need to recapture the sense of urgency that existed in the early church and today make an immediate and urgent call for light, a call for reconciliation, healing, and peace -- a call for God.
Jesus began this work of reconciliation by touching and healing those who turned to him. This is what the kingdom of God is all about: touching, healing, loving, caring for each person. Jesus used his miracles to get the people’s attention so they could hear his teaching; hear that he was calling them to come and find new life; and for us to hear that we who have been called are now sent to call others to come and see what we have discovered – that we are loved and offered peace and new life.
Is the Gospel relevant to today’s world? You bet it is. Is it relevant to each of us? Is the Gospel of Christ relevant to you in your life today? Yes, indeed. What I think we sometimes miss in the whole wonder of the Gospel is the fact that Jesus was sent to each one of us and that his whole life, while caught up in the mission of the reconciliation of the world, never lost its focus on the person. Jesus stopped and touched the leper. In his grand scheme, his love and his desire to touch the lives of people would cause him to pause to heal, to reach out to those who hungered for what he came to give them. Do you understand that this means that he came for you — you, yourself, just as you are at this very moment? Today’s reading clearly reminds us of the directness and the immediacy of God’s love, desire, and care for each of us. He stops and turns toward us and says, “Peace, be whole.”
We can get so preoccupied with our plans and the building of institutions that we lose sight of the primary mission of Christ. Like Jesus, we are called to draw others to God and, like Jesus, we are to show others who God is and what God is like. Like Jesus, we keep our eyes on God and his love for the world, but, at the same time, we must never lose sight of the leper who was touched and healed, for we, in fact, are the leper. We are the individuals who are touched by the compassion of Christ and the love of God. We have been healed because he has chosen to do so. Now we are the prophets, the wounded healers, the restored and reconciled sinners. We are the Beloved’s beloved.