Sunday Bible Reflections
Jesus in today’s Gospel teaches His apostles how to interpret the Scriptures.
He tells them that all the Scriptures of what we now call the Old Testament refer to Him. He says that all the promises found in the Old Testament have been fulfilled in His passion, death, and resurrection. And He tells them that these Scriptures foretell the mission of the Church—to preach forgiveness of sins to all the nations, beginning at Jerusalem.
The Lenten season continues with another story of testing. Last Sunday, we heard the trial of Jesus in the desert. In this week’s First Reading, we hear of how Abraham was put to the test.
The Church has always read this story as a sign of God’s love for the world in giving His only begotten son.
Lent bids us to return to the innocence our baptism. As Noah and his family were saved through the waters of the deluge, we were saved through the waters of Baptism, Peter reminds us in today’s Epistle.
And God’s covenant with Noah in today’s First Reading marked the start of a new world. But it also prefigured a new and greater covenant between God and His creation (see Hosea 2:20; Isaiah 11:1–9).
We see that new covenant and that new creation begin in today’s Gospel.
In the Old Testament, leprosy is depicted as punishment for disobedience of God’s commands (see Numbers 12:12–15; 2 Kings 5:27; 15:5).
Considered “unclean”—unfit to worship or live with the Israelites, lepers are considered “stillborn,” the living dead (see Numbers 12:12). Indeed, the requirements imposed on lepers in today’s First Reading—rent garments, shaven head, covered beard—are signs of death, penance, and mourning (see Leviticus 10:6; Ezekiel 24:17).
So there’s more to the story in today’s Gospel than a miraculous healing.
In today’s First Reading, Job describes the futility of life before Christ.
His lament reminds us of the curse of toil and death placed upon Adam following his original sin (see Genesis 3:17–19). Men and women are like slaves seeking shade, unable to find rest. Their lives are like the wind that comes and goes.
But, as we sing in today’s Psalm, He who created the stars promised to heal the brokenhearted and gather those lost in exile from Him (see Isaiah 11:12; 61:1). We see this promise fulfilled in today’s Gospel.
Last week, Jesus announced the kingdom of God is at hand. This week, in mighty words and deeds, He exercises His dominion—asserting royal authority over the ruler of this world, Satan (see John 12:31).
Notice that today’s events take place on the sabbath. The sabbath was to be an everlasting sign—both of God’s covenant love for His creation (see Exodus 20:8–11; 31:12–17), and His deliverance of his covenant people, Israel, from slavery (see Deuteronomy 6:12–15).
The calling of the brothers in today’s Gospel evokes Elisha’s commissioning by the prophet Elijah (see 1 Kings 19:19–21).
As Elijah comes upon Elisha working on his family’s farm, so Jesus sees the brothers working by the seaside. And as Elisha left his mother and father to follow Elijah, so the brothers leave their father to come after Jesus.
Jesus’ promise—to make them “fishers of men”—evokes Israel’s deepest hopes. The prophet Jeremiah announced a new exodus in which God would send “many fishermen” to restore the Israelites from
exile, as once He brought them out of slavery in Egypt (see Jeremiah 16:14–16).