Third Sunday Before Lent ‘B’
January 28, 2024
All three readings today teach us that we are called to become pure and holy. But we don’t become holy by some ritual observances. We become holy by confessing our sins to God and offering our lives for God’s glory and by sharing God’s love with everyone around us without discriminating against anyone on the basis of color, race, culture, religion, life style or social status.
The word Vayikra (the Hebrew name of the Book of Leviticus) means that God called Moses and His chosen people to holiness and purity. That is why The First Reading teaches the theme of freedom from bodily and ritual impurity as a sign of internal holiness. This freedom is symbolized by the precautions against contracting leprosy given in the first reading and the healing of the leper described in the Gospel. The First Reading shows the ancient Jewish attitude toward leprosy and gives the rules for the segregation of lepers. This provides a background for Jesus' healing of a leper. In today's Responsorial Psalm (Ps 32), the psalmist says: “I said, "I confess my faults to the LORD, and you took away the guilt of my sin." He teaches us that we become holy by confessing our sins and being reconciled with God every day. The Psalm serves as a mini-treatise on reconciliation, covering the meaning of the spiritual leprosy of sin and showing how we are forgiven by a sacramental encounter with God. “I turn to You, Lord, in time of trouble, and You fill me with the joy of salvation."
In today’s Second Reading, St. Paul exhorts us to become holy by doing “everything for the glory of God” and by showing sensitivity toward others who are different from us, rather than passing judgment on them.
Today’s Gospel describes how Jesus heals a leper, liberating him both from the disease of leprosy and from the unjust and inhuman social isolation and ostracism to which the lepers were subjected.
We need to trust in the mercy of a forgiving God who assures us that our sins are forgiven and that we are clean. We are forgiven and made spiritually clean from the spiritual leprosy of sins when we repent of our sins because God is a God of love Who waits patiently for us. The only condition required of us is that we ask for forgiveness with a repentant heart. We are sure to hear His words of absolution, "I do will it. Be made clean," echoed in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
We need to tear down the walls that separate us from others and build bridges of loving relationship. Jesus calls every one of us to demolish the walls that separate us from each other and to welcome those who by many are seen as outcasts and the untouchables of society. God's loving hand must reach out to them through us. Jesus wants us to touch their lives. Let us re-examine the barriers we have created and approach God with a heart that is ready to welcome the outcasts in our society.