6 Epiphany – Year B

2 Kings 5:1-14; Psalm 30; 1 Corinthians 9:24-27; Mark 1:40-45

“What if you could be anything, or anybody, you choose to be?  Think about it.  What would you choose to be?” – Nido Qubein

                In today’s Gospel a sick man (a leper – see Greek below) asks Jesus for a healing.  He says Jesus can do it if he “chooses” (Mark 1:40).  Who do we relate to in this story?  At first glance we may be tempted to associate ourselves with the sick person since we all have something that needs healing.  On second thought let’s consider Nido Qubein’s question, who or what would we choose to be?  Certainly we can’t actually be someone else, but we can strive to be like someone else.  Do we want to be like the sick person questioning Jesus’ will?  Or do we want to be like Jesus?  How does that role fit on us?  Jesus does not just feel sorry for the man; his bowels shake in compassion (see Greek below).  It’s easy to pity disabled people and throw a few dollars Easter Seal’s way.  It is undemanding to feel sorry for the poor in third world countries and buy them a goat through Heifer International.  Such philanthropy is needed and to be encouraged.  But being like Jesus requires more.  His compassion was so deep that he was physically moved (again see Greek below).  He allowed himself not only to pity the other person.  He chose to feel the way that person felt.  It is often said that faith is not just belief in our heads, but is shown by our actions.  True enough.  For Jesus, faith was shown by his actions.  But his faith also caused him to be deeply moved.  No dispassionate faith for him.  What if we could be anything we choose to be?  Would we choose to be like Jesus?  What moves us?  Who gut wrenches us?

Greek

                The Greek words for leper and leprosy do not refer to Hansen’s disease.  In biblical times the words were used to speak of a number of scaly skin diseases.

                The Greek word here translated “compassion” (sometimes weakly translated pity or feel sorry) actually means “bowels.”  Therefore, to have compassion, literally in Greek, means to be moved in one’s bowels.  In their culture the bowels or guts were considered the seat of emotions.  Even the English word “compassion” means, when broken down, to suffer with, not just feel sorry for or not simply pity.

Haiku

Gut wrenching sick so.

Choose so to feel as do you.

I do choose.  Be well.

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