Tag Archives: Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

To watch Fr. Joe’s homily from the Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time: CLICK HERE!

Lepers and leprosy are not common is our world today. Maybe we have heard about Father Damien the Leper who lived and cared for the lepers in Hawaii some 100 years ago. And today leprosy, Hansen Disease, is very treatable.

It is not my intent to talk in length about this, but it is interesting to read about leprosy and then see some of the parallels that exist with the present Coronavirus our world is coping with.

Suffice it to say that in the time of Jesus, leprosy was a contagious infection and for the health of the community, the afflicted persons were excluded from the Community. When they walked the streets and come upon people they called out, “unclean, unclean, unclean.”

Simply stated, lepers were outcasts, people who had to keep their distance from others, at least 6 feet or more!

But as we hear in the Scriptures today, here comes Jesus. He knows the rules. He knows the reasoning of his time regarding lepers… YET, Jesus not only cures the leper, He TOUCHES him!

What did Jesus want for this man, this leper? Healing, yes, but also acceptance, to be part of the community.

What was the message Jesus was sending with his actions? Jesus was saying:

  • Before God, no one is leper, no one is an outcast.
  • Before God, we are ALL loved, no more, no less than anyone else.
  • Before God, we ALL belong!
  • Before God, we are ALL sons and daughters of God. All of us are made in the image and likeness of God.

Today our Scriptures ask something of us… to avoid attitudes and perceptions that can reduce others to lepers, to outcasts, to having nothing to offer, to seeing others as not fitting in for any number of reasons, due to their politics, religion, race, gender or whatever might seem to be a threat to us…

In truth, Jesus who heals lepers, also come to heal us.

Jesus reminds all of us that before His Father and Our Father, before God: no one is a leper, no one is beyond God’s love, mercy and compassion, we are family and we are meant to reach out to one another, embrace one another, as sons and daughters for God today and every day.

Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

To watch Fr. Joe’s homily for the 6th Sunday in Ordinary Time: CLICK HERE!

Recently the comic strip, For Better or Worse, shared an episode of 13 year old Michael complaining to his mother, “Mom there is nothing to wear!”

“Michael,” his mother counters, “you won’t go shopping with me, and the last time I gave you money to buy you own clothes, you did not buy anything!”

A few moments later, Michael who is staring out the window, whines, “There is nothing to do.”

His mother reminds him, “Brian ask you to go swimming, your dad asked you if you wanted to go to town with him — and you turned them both down.”

Then with Michael plopped in front of the TV and the sound turned down.    Michael gripes, “There is nothing to watch.”

And mom says pointedly, “there are plenty of channels to choose from and you have video games to play.”

Then in the next panel, Dad comes home from his errands to find Michael sitting in a chair with a forlorn expression on his face.  “What is with Michael,” dad asks.

Mom deadpans:  “There is nothing to complain about.”

Today’s Gospel is about attitude and perspective.  Michael’s pessimism is his own making and his wise mother calls on it.

But on a deeper and more serious level, Jesus in our Gospel today asks us not to consider our failings and sins, the acts themselves, but the self-centeredness at the heart of our actions.

Says Sirach in our first reading today, ” If you choose, you can keep the Commandments.”

And let me warn you, spoiler alert:

  • If we choose as a person, family, community, nation… we can be reconciled with God and with one another.
  • If we choose, we can be kind, forgiving,  helpful, cooperative, supportive.
  • If we choose, we can keep the Commandments and live the Great Commandment and live the Corporal & Spiritual Works of Mercy.
  • If we chose, we can grow in faith, hope and love, and accept God’s grace to bring a bit of the Kingdom of God here on Earth, as it in Heaven.

This week, where will we choose, as person, family and parish the ways of God, at home, at work, in the community, in all those daily interactions that come our way again and again and again so we can really live…

Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

To watch Fr. Joe’s homily for the 6th Sunday in Ordinary Time: CLICK HERE! 

This past Thursday, we celebrated Valentine’s Day.  A day that centers on our love for others.  Of course, our words of love need to be seen in our actions of love.  And in that vein, Jesus reminds us that we are here to love one another, especially our enemies.

The story is told about a Bishop from Vietnam: Francis Van Thuan, who was captured in 1975 shortly before the end of the war and imprisoned by the communist government for 13 years… 9 of which were in solitary confinement.  After his release, he took refuge in the Vatican.  From his time in prison, he learned a sage-like wisdom.  He taught that “we always run the risk of possessing a theory of love, but not enough of the art of love.”

To that end he shared a story from prison:

When I was in isolation, five police took turns so that there were always two guarding me.  The leaders had told them, “we will replace you every two weeks with another group so that you will not be ‘contaminated’ by this dangerous bishop.”  In the beginning, the guards did not talk with me.  They only answered with a yes or no.  I was terribly sad.  I started to love them, to love Jesus in them, smiling and exchanging kind words with them.  I began to tell stories of my trips abroad, of how people live in America, in Canada, in Japan, in the Philippines … about economics, about freedom, about technology.  This stimulated their curiosity, and they began asking me many questions.  Little by little, we became friends.  They wanted to learn foreign languages, French, English … and my guards became my students!

On one occasion, I had to cut wood on a rainy day.  I spoke to the guard, “can I ask you a favor?”  The guard said, “tell me. I’ll help you.”  I said, “I would like to cut a piece of wood in the shape of a cross.”  The guard said, “don’t you know it’s severely forbidden to have any religious signs whatsoever?” I answered, “I know, but we are friends, and I promise to keep it hidden.”  The guard pointed out that “it will be really dangerous for us.”  So I said, “close your eyes. I’ll do it now, and I’ll be really careful.”  The guard went away and left me alone.  I cut the cross and kept it hidden in a piece of soap — up until the time of my release.  This piece of wood, later placed within a metal frame, became my pectoral cross.

In another prison, I asked my guard, who had become my friend, for a piece of electrical wire.  Frightened, he said to me, “I learned at the Police Academy that when someone asks for electrical wire, it means they want to kill themselves.”  I explained to him, “Catholic priests don’t commit suicide.”  He asked, “but what do you want to do with electrical wire?”  I replied, “I would like to make a chain so I can carry my cross.” “How can you make a chain with electrical wire?  It’s impossible!”  I told him, “if you bring me two small pincers, I’ll show you.”  He said, “it’s too dangerous” and I reminded him “but we’re friends.”  Three days later, he came to me.  “It’s really hard to refuse you anything.  Tomorrow night, when it’s my shift, I’ll bring you a piece of electrical wire.  But you have to finish everything in four hours.”  The next evening, from 7-11, with two little pincers, we cut the electrical wire into pieces the size of matchsticks.  We put them together, and the chain was ready by the time the next guard came on duty.

I carry this bishop’s pectoral cross and chain with me every day, not because they are remembrances of prison, but because they represent my profound conviction.  They constantly remind me that only Christian love — not weapons, not threats, not the media — can change hearts.  It is love that prepares the way for the announcement of the Gospel.

The greatness of Jesus’s preaching (as we hear in today’s Gospel of the Beatitudes) is that no one escapes.  Jesus has something for everyone.

What is it for each of us… all of us… that we are being asked to address when it comes to loving one another, even our enemies.”

Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Scriptures:     Leviticus 13:1-2, 44-46;    1 Corinthians 10:31-11:1;    Mark 1:40-45

After reflecting on this weekend’s readings, I began to put some thoughts together for this weekend’s homily.  And the first thing that came to mind was the refrain from a song by Vince Ambrosetti, who will be here come mid-March 2015:  “Heal me Yahweh and I shall be Healed.”

Interestingly, I was speaking to an author of a book regarding Youth Ministry a few days ago in Baltimore and who appears, but Vince Ambrosetti.  (Seems he was in Baltimore for a meeting at the same venue I and our Faith Formation Director were.)

Anyways, the refrain:   “Heal me Yahweh and I shall be Healed,” fits very nicely with a quote of  Pope Francis this past week,  “Let God into your life.”

And in our Scriptures today we hear the Leper say to Jesus, “If you wish, you can heal me.” And Jesus says, “I do.”

God wishes to come more and more into our lives.  If we want him, God does not force himself into our lives, but God does wish to be part of our lives…

Lent is in the air, Lent is upon us… Just maybe this Lent we can focus upon — Letting God into our lives, a bit more.

We can let God into our lives in so many ways, including the Lenten Traditions of: Prayer, Fasting, Almsgiving and good works.

Lenten efforts that are meant to be part our everyday lives as person, family, and Parish. Lenten efforts that bring us closer to the Lord, to one another.  Lenten efforts that remind us of our need to be his Disciples in today’s world.

Maybe this Lent, we might consider this:

If someone watched you and your family for a day, would they know you are a Person, a Family of Faith; would they know you are Catholic?

Lent is a time to be noticed for our faithfulness to Jesus, to the living of our Faith.  Lent is more than wearing ashes on our forehead.

This Lent, what is the Healing we need to ask of God?

Do we need to LIVE more deeply and faithfully what we say we believe?  To be better examples, better role models of life and of faith to one another, but especially to our children and youth.

One might have to say the adults associated with the Chicago Little League who cheated and lied in order to form not just an all star team, but a championship team, did not do the right thing.

What’s that quote about integrity?  “Integrity” is doing the right thing, even if no one is watching.”

What’s the right thing that God is asking of us – as a Person, Family & Parish – not just for Lent but on our daily journey of life?

The Leper knew that Jesus would heal him.  I hope we do too or at least can get by our fears to ask the Lord to heal us.  Because the answer of the Lord is always the same,  “Yes, I do will it!”

This Lent, may we “Let God into our Lives”… (Really Let God In!)