5 March 2017

posted 3 Mar 2017, 02:44 by C S Paul

5 March 2017

Scripture reading and Sermon

Based on the Lectionary of the Syrian Orthodox Church

Second Sunday of Great Lent - Garbo Sunday (Lepers' Sunday)

Luke 5:12-16New King James Version (NKJV)

Jesus Cleanses a Leper

12 And it happened when He was in a certain city, that behold, a man who was full of leprosy saw Jesus; and he fell on his face and implored Him, saying, “Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.”

13 Then He put out His hand and touched him, saying, “I am willing; be cleansed.” Immediately the leprosy left him. 

14 And He charged him to tell no one, “But go and show yourself to the priest, and make an offering for your cleansing, as a testimony to them, just as Moses commanded.”

15 However, the report went around concerning Him all the more; and great multitudes came together to hear, and to be healed by Him of their infirmities. 

16 So He Himself often withdrew into the wilderness and prayed.

Devotional thoughts for Garbo Sunday

by Rev. Fr. George, Ireland

In the name of Father, Son and Holy Spirit, the one true God forever and ever.
Amen+

We have come to yet another period of Lent. It is a time to re-dedicate ourselves before God and to seek healing from His mercy. Not just for our healing alone, but for the whole creation. The second Sunday of Great Lent, popularly known as `Garbo' is dedicated to pray for and ponder over the pathetic plight of the persons suffering of leprosy. It is in tandem with our Lord Jesus who was willing to heal the leper came to him. The reading passage meant for the meditation of this Sunday is the gospel according to St. Luke 5:12-16.

Leprosy was one of the most dreaded diseases of the time of Jesus Christ as there was no known cure for it. It brought great physical suffering as well as total banishment and isolation from society for it was considered to be highly contagious. Leprosy had a similar emotional impact and terror associated with it as AIDS does today. The priests monitored the disease, banishing lepers who were in a contagious stage to prevent the spread of infection and readmitting lepers whose disease was in remission. Lepers were considered untouchables because people feared contracting their disease. We see here a leper coming to Jesus with the staunch belief that Jesus Christ could heal every trace of the disease, though his condition was worse. Jesus is seen reaching out and touching the leper to heal him.

It is not that easy for a person, who miserably suffers the pain and agony, to have faith in God or to pursue a religious life. But here, from an environment of not having any scope of religious life, the leper who happens to see Jesus, hears the heavenly voice from a plain of faith. This was made possible by the magnanimity of Jesus. Christ, our Lord, felt compassion for the leper and His willingness made Him touch that marginalized one even without an iota of hesitation. There had been an element of revolution in that great act of Christ. It was not merely a physical touch but was a sheer sacramental one which brought about healing for that ailing person. Thus, that man who had been marginalized till then was brought into the mainstream of society. He was asked to convince the priest of his eligibility for the entry into the public life. From the bondage of physical suffering and social stigma, he was set free to enjoy the freedom of living like any other fellow being.

Even today there are many a people who still live in a state of untouchability. We may consider certain people who are diseased or disable to be untouchable or repulsive. This attitude has to change. We must not be afraid to reach out and touch them with God's love so that they may get a holistic healing. Here the sacrament of the anointing the sick has a vital role to play. The Bible says, "So they went out and preached that people should repent. And they cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many who were sick, and healed them" (St. Mark 6:13).

It is at this juncture that the vision and mission of our beloved Geevarghese Mar Osthathios Metropolitan, of blessed memory, has its pertinence. I must acknowledge here with a great sense of love and gratitude that it was he who initiated the philanthropic activities that are being done in the remote places like Yacharam and Kalahandi particularly for the betterment of lepers. The best tribute that we can pay to his grace is nothing but to offer ourselves willingly in undertaking the unaccomplished dreams of that great lover of humanity.

Are we ready to take up that responsibility (Liturgy after the Liturgy) and face the challenges posed before us? Let the beckoning voice of Jesus, our Lord, which revealed again through the sermons of Mar Osthathios, reverberate in our ears and inspire us. Let us emulate prayerfully the life of Jesus that had been recapitulated through the paradigmatic life of Mar Osthathios. As we mourn in memory of his grace and prepare ourselves for the passion of Christ and His resurrection, let us observe this holy Lent in all sincerity and seriousness by leading a simple and humble life. The heaven will rejoice, if we are able to share our resources like our prayer coated in love, knowledge, food, clothing, medicine, etc with our fellow beings. Let us fly to the door of salvation by being on the wings of Lent.


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