6th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B – Homily

6th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B
Leviticus 13:1-2, 44-46
Psalm 32:1-2, 5, 11 (7)
1 Corinthians 10:31-11:1
Mark 1:40-45
February 14, 2021

The “leper came to Jesus.”  The very fact that the leper came to Jesus would be amazing to the people around Jesus.  Even more amazing would be that Jesus touched him.

Why?  Because it broke the Levitical code for leprosy.

Leprosy involves skin diseases.  There were no cures for leprosy then.  It often became a terminal condition.  It was also contagious.  Thus, The Book of Leviticus provided very specific instructions on how to deal with lepers.

Lepers were to keep their “garments rent…head bare”, their beards muffled, and to cry out “Unclean, unclean!”  This was not punishment.  It was to protect others from the disease.

Furthermore, lepers had to “dwell apart” and make their “abode outside the camp.

Thus, they were isolated and alone, separated from their loved ones.

Today we might complain about COVID quarantines and precautions.  In quarantine and social distancing we might feel isolated.  However, our isolation is temporary.  For the lepers, it was often permanent.

It is in this context that this leper hears about Jesus performing miracles.  He comes to Jesus in faith, kneeling before Jesus, begging Jesus for help.  His words to Jesus, “If you wish, you can make me clean,” show he is certain that Jesus can help him.

Of course, Jesus does will it.  The man is made clean.

The leper is cleansed, healed of his leprosy.

What do you need Jesus to cleanse you of?

In the Prayer over the Offerings today, I will say, “May this oblation, O Lord, we pray, cleanse and renew us.”

In celebrating the Eucharist, Jesus’ death on the Cross is made present for us.  We are cleansed of venial sins (mortal sins require the Sacrament of Reconciliation) and renewed with what we receive in Communion.

To open ourselves to all that God offers us, we need to allow God to cleanse us of our sins and to transform us, as we prayed in the Opening Prayer, “grant that we may be so fashioned by your grace as to become a dwelling pleasing to you.”

What we need to do is to turn our hearts to the Lord so that we may be filled with the “joy of salvation.” 

Now is a perfect time to turn our hearts to the Lord.  This Wednesday is Ash Wednesday, marking the beginning of Lent.  It is a time of acknowledging our sins with the ashes serving as a sign of our repentance.

We are called to fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.  We abstain from meat on Ash Wednesday and all Fridays of Lent.  Our fasting is a sign of our repentance.  Abstaining from meat is a sign that we are willing to sacrifice something for Jesus who sacrificed his life for us on the Cross.

Here I would like to shift back to the leper for a moment.  After Jesus healed the leper, He said to him, “See that you tell no one anything.”  Why?  Doesn’t Jesus want the word about him to spread? 

Yes, Jesus wants everyone to know about him.  Unfortunately, people who hear about Jesus were often just interested in the miracles.  They didn’t understand fully who Jesus is. 

Several times in Mark’s Gospel, Jesus tells those He does miracles for not to tell anyone.  This is called the “Messianic Secret.”  Why keep it a secret?  People cannot fully know who Jesus is until they see him crucified on the Cross.

Then, knowing of Jesus and his Crucifixion, is Jesus’ full identity to be publicized to the world.

Yet, we face relativists who tell us not to talk about Jesus.  How are people to know that Jesus laid down his life for all if we don’t tell them?  How are they to know what Jesus taught if we don’t tell them?

How are we to tell others about Jesus if we are trapped in our own sin and don’t know all that we should about our faith?

Lent is a time of conversion.  What are you going to do for Lent to open yourselves more fully to Jesus?

It can start with our sins.  When was the last time you examined your conscience and went to confession?  Look at the Ten Commandments and ask if you have loved God and neighbor.  For example, thinking of the isolation of the lepers, have you done things that isolate people, like racism? 

Confession is not an outdated practice.  It is something we need to lift the burden of our sins.  Remember what the psalmist said, “I said, “I confess my faults to the LORD,” and you took away the guilt of my sin.

You can come to Fr. Bernard or myself after daily Masses to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  You can come during times of Adoration.  If these times don’t work for you, call one of us and make an appointment.  Let Jesus free you from your sins.

To open yourselves to the Lord, you might make time in your schedule to come to Stations of the Cross on Friday night.  If you can’t come because of the Coronavirus or other reasons, we have links on our website to several versions of the Stations of the Cross that you can do from home. 

You can also attend daily Mass.  If you can’t come during the week, during Lent we have a Saturday morning 9:00 am Mass at Holy Angels. 

Perhaps during Lent, you can give some time to the Lord seeking to learn more about our faith.  You can read from the Bible or other Christian writings.  You can watch or read materials on my website (www.renewaloffaith.org).  It is not just a matter of knowledge.  It is to deepen our relationship with Jesus.

So, what are you going to do for Lent?  How might it bring you closer to the Lord?  How might it bring others to the Lord?

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