VI Sunday of Ordinary Time

Por: p. José Miguel González

Palabra de Hoy
Palabra de Hoy

February 14, 2021

A leper approached Jesus, begging him on his knees:
“If you want, you can clean me up.”
Pityed, he reached out and touched him saying:
“I want to: it’s clean.”

Readings

First Reading

Reading the book of Leviticus 13.1-2.44-46

The Lord said to Moses and Aron:
“When one has inflammation, rash, or spot on his skin, and a leprosy-like sore occurs to him, he shall be brought before the priest Aaron, or before one of his sons priests.
He’s a leper: he’s impure. The priest will declare him impure with leprosy on his head.
The leprosy sufferer will walk around with his clothes torn and his hair scruffy, his beard covered and shouting, ‘Impure, impure!’ For the duration of the condition, it will remain impure. He is impure and will live alone and will have his abode outside the camp.”

Psalm

Salt 31.1-2.5.11

You are my refuge, you surround me with songs of liberation.

Blessed is he who is acquitted of his guilt, to whom his sin has been buried;
blissful the man to whom the Lord does not aim crime

and in whose spirit there is no deception. R/.

I had sinned, I recognized him, I did not cover up my crime for you;
I proposed, “I will confess to the Lord my guilt,” and you forgaved my guilt and sin. R/.

Rejoice, righteous, and enjoy with the Lord; cheer it up, the sincere-hearted ones. R/.

Second Reading

Reading St Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians 10.31-11.1

Brothers:
Whether you eat, drink, or do what you do, do everything for God’s glory.
Give no cause of scandal to Jews, Greeks, or the Church of God; like me, who try to please everyone in everything, not by seeking my own advantage, but that of most, to be saved.
Be imitators of mine as I am of Christ.

Gospel

Reading the Holy Gospel according to Mark 1.40-45

At that time, a leper approached Jesus, begging him on his knees:
“If you want, you can clean me up.”
Pityed, he reached out and touched him saying:
“I want to: it’s clean.”
Leprosy was immediately removed and cleaned. He fired him, severely commissioning him:
“Don’t tell anyone; But for the for the first time, go introduce yourself to the priest and offer for your purification what Moses commanded, that it may serve as a testimony to them.”
But when he left, he began to preach high and to spread the fact, so that Jesus could no longer openly enter any people; stayed out, in lonely places; and yet they came to him everywhere.

 

Comment

Much of the world celebrates today, February 14th, the Day of Love and Friendship. Love with distance and friendship with hidden face… a whole paradoxical image of our time. Love and friendship are universal values, every heart aspires to sincere love and every existence sighs for true friendship. Having a day that reminds us reinforces this desire and atheres this hope. We have been created by God for communication and living in society. Now we know: living in imposed solitude, or in obligatory confinement, is a real disgrace. But from silence and loneliness we can continue to love as God loves us, corresponding to the love and affection we receive from Him and so many people. It is the best medicine to heal so many diseases of the soul.

A few days ago, last Thursday 11th, the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, we celebrated World Sick Day in the Church under the motto: “Let us take care of each other”. The culture of care, of which Pope Francis speaks to us so much, is rooted in the Christian principle of “loving others as God loves us”. Taking care of the sick, taking care of the weakest, taking care of each other, taking care of everything and everyone, is nothing more than imitating the Creator, who every day makes the sun rise on each other, keeps us in life, preserves us, gives us nature and the goods that are in it for our good, takes care of us and accompanies us because he loves us tenderly. This mutual and extendable care to all, the fruit of Christian love, becomes more necessary today than ever, in the midst of this pandemic, in which we must learn that love, solidarity, mutual and shared care can overcome any difference and obstacle, any physical or spiritual disease.

Today’s Word of God tells us about a disease: leprosy. It was understood in those days as a contagious and disgusting disease, but above all humiliating, discriminatory and exclusionary. In the Old Testament, divine blessing was linked to health, fertility, joy, and prosperity; on the contrary, sickness, ruin, infertility and misfortune to the curse. The most serious ailments, as in the case of contagious diseases, also led to the social stigma of the infamous exile and the severe prohibition of approaching others and populated nuclei. The one affected by such a disease, as in the case of leprosy, was, in that vision, a cursed, someone whom God had rejected as impure. The Lepers were “living dead,” deprived of all life of family, work, and religion.

But the leprosy we are told about today is much more than a physical illness; it is the symbol of so many anatomical and spiritual diseases, which torment and devalue the quality of life of so many of our brethren; it is also the symbol of so many social diseases that destroy the living fabric of the society in which we live; it is, of course, a symbol of sin in any of its forms, which takes us away from God, from our brothers and sisters and destroys us as people.

It is worthwhile for us to spend a little time today thinking about what our leprosies are, our individual or collective scourges, which drive away, stigmatize, discriminate and dehumanize. We cannot be left alone in the conclusion that the leprosy of our time is the pandemic of covid19… true, but there are many more leprosy spread and hidden or hidden: the hunger suffered by thousands of people in the most disadvantaged regions of the planet and, along with it, poverty in any form, the lack of decent housing, the lack of fairly paid work; other leprosy are forgotten wars in poor countries and any form of explicit or hidden violence against women, children, the elderly, including abortion, which is the murder of the unborn; another leprosy is the oppression and repression of totalitarian regimes that cancel out personal freedom and hurt the economic and social development of peoples; another leprosy is the manipulation of the masses through deception, lying and false promises through some means of social communication, behind which are hidden well-defined interests of multinationals or rich and opulent characters. Discovering, unmasking and identifying our individual or collective leprosy is the obvious and essential first step in healing and ridding us of them.

When Jesus began his public ministry, when he faced the drama of the complexity of human existence and the plots of his relationships, he was outraged by some of the various situations He encountered. Today’s Gospel places Jesus still in Cafarnaúm and narrates one of them: that of those who are socially excluded because of their illnesses and ailments, the drama of those who are rejected for having the body full and broken and thus provoke, with their mere presence, revulsion.

If Jesus Christ were to appear in the flesh today in our streets and squares, in our media, in our places of worship and assembly, I would surely face without fear the “leprosy” of our time. For He has come into the world not to condemn but to save, that is, to heal us from all evils. But He does not invade us, He does not suppress us, He does not compel us; He needs us to put our faith in Him and tell him as the gospel leper, with humility and vehemence: “If you want, you can cleanse me.”

We lack faith in his omnipotence. We don’t just believe that nothing is impossible for Him. All the problems of our world are in the palm of your hand, at your fingertips. But he wants to count on us. He wants to heal us inside, He wants us to open the door of our hearts to him, even if it is just a slit, wherever He can sneak in. Because changing hearts is how He can change the world, person by person, step by step, door to door, family to family.

Today more than ever we need to look to Christ in faith and pray that he will free us from all the evils that lask us personally or socially; and ask not only for each of us and our acquaintances, but also for those we do not know, for the poor, those excluded and discarded from anywhere; for those who don’t even know him or have faith, for those who even reject or oppress us. Jesus loves them too and you want to heal them.

Jesus looked at the leper, took pity on him, touched him, and said, “I want, it’s clean.” Touching a leper was a forbidden gesture, almost obscene; danger of contagion and, of course, falling into legal and religious impurity. But Jesus puts the person first than the things; he doesn’t feel rejection for anyone; prioritizes the liberation of the human being over the religious or social customs and norms of his time. Nor does Jesus feel repulsed or disgusted at anyone or anything of our time. Today too Jesus looks at each of us with love, calls us by name, touches our hearts wounded by sin or so many anxieties and says, “I want, it is clean.” His overflowing mercy dilutes our miseries.

It is imaginable the wild joy of this poor man to feel that his flesh was suddenly healed. He could not fail to divulge and preach high, to all and everywhere, what the Lord had done with him. He became a living witness of God’s mercy. We too, when we feel healed by the Lord, cannot shut up, suppress our joy. We must be able to share it so that others too may seek in Christ the healing they need. We must be imitators of Jesus: that we do not feel repulsed by anything or anyone else, that we do not be scandalized by the sin of others, that we do not prejudize ourselves before people who do not think or feel like us.

Pope Francis, with regard to today’s Gospel, tells us: “If we want to be authentic disciples of Jesus we are called to become, united to Him, instruments of his merciful love, overcoming all kinds of marginalization. To be ‘imitators of Christ’, before a poor or sick person, we do not have to be afraid to look him in the eye and approach him tenderly and compassion, and to touch and embrace him.”

Prayer

Sir, if you want, you can clean me up.

I’m aware of my need for you,

I feel powerless in the face of so many painful situations,

I find myself without strength, without illusion, with no desire to keep walking.

Sir, if you want, you can clean me up.

In the face of my weakness I am dazzled by your Omnipotence,

because nothing is impossible for you, you can do everything.

It is enough for me to open a slit of my life for You to enter and work with the power of your Spirit.

Sir, if you want, you can clean me up.

I humbly acknowledge my leprosy, my sins.

I was proud and wanted to hear challenging horizons,

I was naive and got lost on tortuous roads,

I was proud and fell into chasms of misery and rot.

Sir, if you want, you can clean me up.

My leprosy and illnesses are those of many: power, pleasure, having.

I don’t feel discriminated against with them, but I do feel isolated and empty inside.

I’m tortured by loneliness and a lack of meaning.

Sir, if you want, you can clean me up.

I also ask you, Lord, to cure the leprosies and diseases of others:

hunger, lack of decent housing, lack of sufficiently paid work, deprivation of liberty, contagious diseases…

Heal our hearts so that we may be generous to those who have less, so that we may joyfully sing your praises by glorifying your Name.

Sir, if you want, you can clean us up.

Amen.

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