A leper came to him and kneeling down begged him and said,
“If you wish [would dare], you can make me clean [declare me clean—a priestly Levitical function].”
Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand, touched the leper, and said to him, [by touching Jesus should have contracted “leprosy”; however, the man was made clean]
“I do will it. Be made clean.”
The leprosy left him immediately, and he was made clean. [Healing always means that the person is restored to his/her rightful place in society.]
Then, warning him sternly [snorting with indignation], he dismissed him at once.
Then he said to him, “See that you tell no one anything,
but go [go back], show yourself to the priest
and offer for your cleansing what Moses prescribed; [his offering is a witness against the priests and their purity code]
that will be proof for them.”
The man went away and began to publicize the whole matter.
He spread the report abroad
so that it was impossible for Jesus to enter a town openly.
He remained outside in deserted places, [Jesus, now unclean, has to hide out in the desert places]
and people kept coming to him from everywhere. (Mk 1:40-45)
Ched Myers’ commentary on Mark, Binding the Strong Man, gives us a whole new perspective on the mission of Jesus. Jesus had a purpose when he healed. He was challenging the domination system which made people sick in the first place. Leprosy, a skin disease and not Hanson’s Disease, was part of a domination system which excluded people. Lepers were outcasts of society and could not mingle with other folks. They were sons and daughters of Abba but the system made them unclean. The system victimized them and excluded them.
Pope John Paul II reminded us of structural sin—the very societal structures we have created exclude people and makes them ill, unclean and unworthy. The 1% dominates, marginalizes and excludes the 99%. Oppression destroys the immune system and brings on illness and further exclusion especially in cultures where sickness is seen as a sign of divine disfavor. In our day the Prosperity Gospel reinforces this reason for exclusion. You are unemployed because you do drugs or don’t have a GED.
In this episode of Jesus’ campaign for justice for the crowds (the 99%), Jesus confronts the purity code and priestly domination of the crowds. The man knows he is putting Jesus on the spot—if you would dare. Jesus debunked the purity code by touching the leper and not contracting leprosy. The NAB translation misses the strength of the word “embrim?samenos”—“snorting with indignation.” Jesus has had it with the burdensome uncalled-for purity codes and priestly hegemony.
Jesus tells the man to “go back.” He had probably already been to the priests and his request for healing had been denied. Instead of keeping quiet, the man proclaims the healing Jesus has worked in him. Jesus then becomes a fugitive from the officials because he has stepped on their turf.
In Mark’s Gospel—the Good news the emperor cannot proclaim—Jesus will attack the systems which oppress, marginalize and exclude. Jesus today would condemn systems where corporate raiders do not increase some value for society instead of lining their pockets and bank accounts. Dylan Ratigan’s new book, Greedy Bastards (http://www.amazon.com/Greedy-Bastards-Corporate-Communists-Banksters/dp/1451642229/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1326377168&sr=1-1) , explains how the 1% manages to manipulate the system so they can extort from the crowd and keep the crowd in poverty or near poverty. Why are the churches of the Risen Christ silently standing by while the crowd—the middle class and least among us—are oppressed, marginalized and excluded their share of the American Dream. Jesus would neither condemn nor praise capitalism. It is a system for creating wealth; however, Jesus would condemn the creation of wealth and hoarding it. Capitalism should create “wealth” for the 100% and not the 1%.
To the Wall Streeters and banksters who extort and exploit and marginalize, Jesus would say, “Woe to you [Greedy B________] who are well fed now, for you will go hungry.” (Lk 6:25) The Gospel makes whole and restores us to our rightful place in society as sons and daughters of the Living God.
Having life and having it in abundance means that every human person is entitled to food, clothing, shelter, medical care, and education regardless of status or privilege. Hoarding by the 1% is like storing more and more grain in silos and facing judgment that very night. “Woe to you!”