This is a homily based on Luke 5:12-16
One of the most vivid images of war and torment was the pictures of the concentration camps that existed in Nazi Germany and throughout Europe. As students, we have all been exposed to the faces of those prisoners, emaciated by hunger and burdened by being the victims of human hatred and violence. We know that the Nazis had inflicted such cruelty on Jews, Christians, and other people who did not fit into their ideal society. In addition, we are also familiar with the stories of how these prisoners were liberated from their bondage by the armies of the Allied Forces in World War II. We know how the prisoners were filled with joy at being set free by the armies of England, the United States, and the Soviet Union. Having been freed from the torment of prison, many of them would go on to live happy and productive lives.
The good news found in Jesus Christ is a lot like the liberation that those prisoners experienced. However, there is one big difference. The prisoners that Christ came to liberate are those who are cut off from communion with God. Like the prisoners of the concentration camps, these prisoners are spiritually emaciated and brought down by the ravages of sin. They no longer have the happiness and inner peace that comes from communion with Christ. They are like the leper in today’s Gospel.
As you may know, in Jesus’ time, lepers were not allowed to participate as full members in society. Due to their illness, they were outcasts from society and to touch such a person would make one unclean. But this does not hold back Jesus. He brings the good news to the leper because he is willing to bring his love to those who are on the margins of society. We can think of leprosy as representing all those who are cut off from Christ due to sin. The leper is outside of the community; he is not able to be a part of the fullness of society. In a similar way, sin keeps us from full communion with God. Those who are in a state of mortal sin don’t share in the Divine life offered by Jesus Christ. They need to be welcomed back into the new society that is called the Church.
Through the sacraments we are restored to friendship with God. The sacraments liberate us from the bondage of sin because in the sacraments we encounter Christ. This is the good news we must share with the world. Through Christ and his Church, people can be freed from the tyranny of sin and brought into the Kingdom of God. We can assist in his salvific plan by bringing people to the sacraments. We can make a personal invitation to people who are on the margins of society, and we can help them to understand the mystery which is bestowed upon us. Brothers and sisters, we are all called to reach out to those in need, and help them receive the gift of God’s grace. Let us never fail to proclaim what we have been given.