SPIRITUAL INFECTION

THEME: SPIRITUAL INFECTION
READINGS: Leviticus 13:1-2, 44-46/ 1 Corinthians 10:31-11:1/ Mark 1:40-45
6th Sunday in Ordinary Time

INTRODUCTION

In both the first and gospel readings, leprosy is mentioned.  Leprosy, like the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (CoViD-19), is an infectious disease. Our Lord Jesus Christ, according to the gospel reading, demonstrates an absolute healing power over leprosy: the leper experienced instant and total healing with the touch and word of Jesus (cf. Mark 1:41-42).

Beloved, some clues from elsewhere in the gospels give us the understanding that Jesus’ absolute power over the infectious disease of leprosy has a deeper meaning for us. For instance, in healing the man born blind, Jesus wanted the people to understand that He is the light of the world (cf. John 9:5).  Similarly, in demonstrating His absolute power over leprosy, Jesus teaches us that He has absolute power over the spiritual infectious disease of sin (cf. John 1:29).

SIN AS AN INFECTIOUS DISEASE

Why is sin an infectious disease? Infectious diseases like leprosy and CoViD-19 impact negatively on the health of an individual and they spread from person to person.  Similarly, sin has an adverse effect on our spiritual health and it spreads from person to person.

Indeed, sin as a spiritual infectious disease is more deadly than leprosy, CoViD-19 or any other physical infectious disease. This is because, firstly, its deadly effect on the individual could be eternal. As leprosy, for instance, disfigures a person physically, so sin disfigures us in spirit.  A sinner loses the radiance of the “image and likeness” of the all-holy God. Again, as physical leprosy makes its victims lose their fingers, toes, etc., so sin makes us lose wholeness of our souls. So, whereas leprosy disfigures one’s body, and CoViD-19 does more damage to internal human organs, sin does the most damage as it kills our spiritual internal “organ”, the soul.

Secondly, while for instance, the impact of CoViD-19 on humanity includes the loss of jobs, businesses, good health, physical lives, etc., the adverse effects of sin are greater. They include the loss of God’s grace, His fellowship and eventually, heaven, etc.

Thirdly, whereas leprosy and CoViD-19 can infect a large number of people who come into contact with each other, the infection capacity of sin is not only trans-generational, it is from Adam and Eve until Christ will come again.  Thus, St. Paul affirms: “sin came into the world through one man, and death came through sin, and so death spread to all because all have sinned” (Rom. 5:12) and again, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23).  

JESUS, THE UNIQUE DIVINE PHYSICIAN

Yes, sin is the deadliest infectious disease.  Fortunately, though, there is great news for us: Jesus can heal us of the spiritual infections of sin! According to today’s gospel reading, to be healed, the leper expressed faith in Jesus: “if You are willing, You can make me clean” (Mark 1:41).  So, our first step towards receiving the Lord’s healing or forgiveness of our sins is to have faith in Him.

OBSERVING THE DIRECTIVES

After healing the leper, Jesus told him: “go, show yourself to the priest, and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded” (Mark 1:44).  Thus, Jesus asked the healed leper to observe the directives of the Law of Moses (cf. Lev. 13:1-2, 44-46; the first reading). Similarly, we must observe the certain spiritual directives if we wish to prevent the infections of sins.  Let us illustrate these spiritual directives with some of the CoViD-19 directives.

Firstly, a person infected by the coronavirus is to isolate him/herself.  So, beloved, if we have been infected by the spiritual virus of sin, let us isolate ourselves.  That is, let us create a spiritual space for ourselves in a quiet place (the church or home) to reflect on how our sins offend God and negatively impact on ourselves and others.

Secondly, just as we would report to health professionals, if we suspect that we have been infected by the coronavirus, so Jesus instructs us to see the priest.  Beloved, let us see the priest to confess the sins we have committed (cf. James 5:14-16).

Thirdly, to prevent ourselves from the coronavirus infection, we are advised to wear face masks and sometimes together with shields. Similarly, we could see prayer as the face mask and fasting as a shield. So, let us cultivate the habits of prayer and fasting to prevent the infection of sin.

Fourthly, as social distancing is required to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, so let us distance ourselves from people who either lead us into temptation or in whose company we fall into sin.

Fifthly, as certain food nutrients and vitamins boost our immune systems against CoViD-19, so may our nourishment by the Word of God, the sacraments and good deeds, especially, charitable works, boost the immunity of our spirits against the infection of sin.

Finally, our souls are infected by the virus of sin when our minds and hearts entertain and succumb to temptations. Therefore, our minds and hearts are like the hands which carry the coronavirus into our nostrils and mouths. So, with the Living Water (Holy Spirit) and the precious blood of Jesus as soap, may our minds and hearts be always sanitized. Amen!

By Most Rev. John Kobina Louis

Bishop John Kobina Louis

Most Rev. John Kobina Louis is an auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Accra, Ghana. More about him here.

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Catholic Homilies and Sermons for the Liturgical Year by Most Rev. John Kobina Louis, auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Accra, Ghana.

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