February 11, 2018 6th Sunday in Ordinary Time Fr Jim Miller

Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time  

Reading 1 LV 13:1-2, 44-46

Responsorial Psalm PS 32:1-2, 5, 11

 Reading 2 1 COR 10:31—11:1 

Alleluia LK 7:16

Gospel MK 1:40-45

Click here to listen to Homily

Homily—February 10 & 11, 2018  

   I would like to share with you a statement from our Archbishop.

“One of our mission priorities is to teach stewardship as a way of life.  As a way of life, stewardship teaches that we do not own anything; all is on loan from God, entrusted to us to manage as stewards of what belongs to God.  Stewardship teaches us to use anything according to God’s good pleasure, which is to provide ourselves, our dependents, and to the poor with those things needed to live in dignity.  Helping those who cannot protect or provide for themselves is an essential practice of our Catholic religion; indeed, it is the mark of authenticity for followers of Jesus.  The Archdiocesan Office of Catholic Charities helps us help the poor:  organizing the work, enlisting volunteers, and securing donations, such as by means of this annual appeal.  As you consider how much you will share in the annual appeal, think about what Jesus said:  Give and gifts will be given to you. . .The measure with which you measure will in return be measured out to you.  In anticipation of your sacrificial gift, thank you.  Archbishop Michael Jackels

He also sent us pastors some recommendations because of the flu epidemic here in Iowa.   I will share three of these with you:  People should stay home if they feel sick; it is not a sin to miss Sunday Mass due to illness or caring for someone who is ill.  People who feel sick, but who still attend Mass, should refrain from shaking hands, and should consider the option of receiving Holy Communion in the hand, as well as refraining from receiving from the chalice.  The Sign of peace should be exchanged without shaking hands.—I understand that there is a parish in Iowa City that encourages the wave!   Some do a nod, a smile, or another sign.

   Now that we have talked about not touching let us think about the gospel and the man with leprosy that people were afraid to touch.  

   When the leper came to Jesus, he was doing something forbidden.   He was to stay away from healthy people and to warn them if they were approaching him by yelling “unclean, unclean”.  He must have been at least a little frightened.  Instead of respecting the law that kept him on the margins of society, he knelt down in front of Jesus as to one who not only had the power to help him, but who could also exercise the freedom to do what the law would not and could not do:  to accept and heal rather than banish him.

   Speaking with the audacity of someone who has no other options, the man summoned Jesus to reveal what he was all about:  “If you wish, you can make me clean.”  The man had no question about whether Jesus could accomplish the feat, only whether Jesus wanted to do so, whether he would choose it as part of the mission for which he had come.

   According to Mark, the man’s request stirred Jesus to his depths.  Even before he could speak, his hand was reaching out, touching the man’s spurned and suffering body, transforming it with tenderness.  Then pronouncing the words that explained his gesture and made his will effective, Jesus said, “I do will it.  Be made clean.”

   With that, Jesus commissioned the healed man as the first apostle to the leaders of the Jews:  “Go, show yourself to the priest. . .offer what Moses prescribed; that will be proof.”  Whether the man got to the priests, we do not know, but he did not follow Jesus’ order to keep quiet with others.  His story made Jesus the man of the moment and took away any hope of anonymity.  If he did not go to the towns, they came to him.

   I have three thoughts for you to reflect on in this gospel.   First, who are the lepers in our own place and time?   To have the flu might isolate us a little bit but nothing like a leper who might be quarantined for many years.   Who is it that we try to avoid making eye contact or having a conversation?   

   Second, why did the leper not listen to Jesus who told him, “See that you tell no one anything”.  Here is a man spreading the good news—something that we are often hesitant to do today.

   Third, the leper recognized that the only one who could help him was Jesus.  If he had not gone to Jesus he would not have been cured.   What about us.   Do we reveal our need for healing to Jesus?   Do we hide our sins from the people around us and maybe even from ourselves?   It is only when we can acknowledge our sinfulness and ask for forgiveness that we can be set free.   Some sins are addictions that we can only overcome with God’s help and a supportive community.

   Ash Wednesday is almost upon us.   This year it falls on Valentine’s Day.   That doesn’t give you an excuse not to do something for your Valentine!   I would suggest do something special before Valentine’s Day or even after but I would recommend before.

   What will help you to grow in holiness during Lent?   Choose something you will do and something you will give up.