Fr Vincent's reflections on the 6th Sunday in Ordinary Time

In today’s Gospel, Jesus heals a man with leprosy.  This leads to some interesting changes in the life of the leper and the life of Jesus.  We come to Jesus seeking healing at times, but are we ready for the healing Jesus offers us and the changes that will make in our lives?!

Watch the video: Fr Vincent's reflections on the 6th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Read the text:

 

Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time                   (Feb. 14, 2021)

 

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.      R/.  Amen.

 

The Grace and Peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.           R/.  And with your spirit.

 

On this Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time, let us pray:

 

             O God, who teach us that you abide

             in hearts that are just and true,

             grant that we may be so fashioned by your grace

             as to become a dwelling pleasing to you.

             Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,

             who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

             God, for ever and ever.                                                            R/.  Amen.

 

Hopefully you have your Bible with you to follow along.  If not, please pause the video to retrieve your Bible. 

The Gospel today is Mark 1:40-45.

 

A reading from the holy Gospel according to Mark

 

      A leper came to Jesus and kneeling down begged him and said,

             “If you wish, you can make me clean.”

      Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand,

             touched him, and said to him,

             “I do will it. Be made clean.”

      The leprosy left him immediately, and he was made clean.

      Then, warning him sternly, he dismissed him at once.

      He said to him, “See that you tell no one anything,

             but go, show yourself to the priest

             and offer for your cleansing what Moses prescribed;

             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,

             and people kept coming to him from everywhere.

 

The Gospel of the Lord.                                                                        R/.  Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.

 

As we continue to read progressively from St. Mark’s Gospel each Sunday, we would seem to have another healing story, as we have heard the last several weeks.  But if you have been following my reflections, you know by now it is not merely a miracle of healing a leper.  So, let’s see what this moment in the ministry of Jesus is all about and what is the message for you and me today.

Leprosy was so deadly and contagious at the time of Jesus, and truly up to even this last century that those with the disease were shunned by society and made to live far away from towns and villages.  You’ve heard of “leper colonies,” no doubt.  These people were believed to have been cursed by God himself because it was such a slow and agonizing way to die.  It was believed that only God could change their fate, which at the time was the truth.  That’s why the Book of Moses required a leper who believed himself to be cured had to be judged by a priest to see if God really healed the person.

So, this leper, believing Jesus could heal him, breaks the societal rule – we have 6ft social distance now; for them is was 10 paces, about 5 yards – and approaches Jesus.  Though this English translation uses the word “pity” for Jesus’ reaction, the better English word would be “compassion;” Jesus felt with the leper his pain and loneliness.  If the leper was willing to break the “5 yard” rule, Jesus was willing to break the stricter rule: “no touching!”  To touch a leper meant you immediately became a leper yourself.  Jesus showed his compassion, basically by being willing to trade places with this leper.  The former leper could move about freely and go wherever he wanted.  Jesus became the one who had to hide from people; Jesus lost his freedom and had to live in the wilderness.

What does all this mean for us?  As human beings who commit sins and hurt each other, we destroy love and create divisions.  We shun others and they shun us.  We might even judge others as unloved by God and therefore not deserving of our love.  Don’t be surprised to learn that others can judge us just as harshly!  Human beings create “social lepers” of each other.

Jesus sees each of us, no matter how we judge each other, as loved by God.  He wants us to know that love from God and that love for others.  Not only will Jesus “touch” us when no one else would; he even takes our place – becoming human and eventually dying for our sins – to make us free and able to be people who love each other.  It’s not physical healing that Jesus gives but a healing of hearts so that we can love and be loved by others as God loves each of us.

This means we can no longer look upon others, or even ourselves, as undeserving of love or compassion.  Jesus teaches us that the worst of us are still loved, and healed, by God.  You and I have no right to shun others any more than we should be shunned by them.  Once more, the Opening Prayer of the Mass tells us how we should think and pray for this healing of our hearts.  Let the words sink into your heart now and know God chooses to dwell in your heart if you are willing to love others as God chooses to love us and them.

 

             O God, who teach us that you abide

             in hearts that are just and true,

             grant that we may be so fashioned by your grace

             as to become a dwelling pleasing to you.

 

God bless!

 

Final Blessing:

 

             The Lord be with you.                                                               R/.  And with your spirit.

             And may the blessing of almighty God,

             the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit,

             come down on you and remain with you for ever.                   R/.  Amen.