6th Sunday in Ordinary Time- 2021-B

As we journey through the challenges of life, few of us knew the fear of touching or being touched by an unclean person until the onset of the Coronavirus early last year.  One moment we were all willing to be herded into buses, subways, planes, or crowed movie theaters or restaurants together, sharing and sitting and breathing in these crowed spaces.  And then almost overnight , our lives were changed, it seemed, that other people became a dangerous enemy, or potential disease carriers, or unaware “killers”, so to speak./  New concepts came into our regular vocabulary, like social distancing, and in the lockdown that followed , we closed ourselves in homes that became fortresses for fear of being of close to each other. We go to supermarkets and there are safe distancing signs marked and other places of unavoidable contact.

These fears would have been very familiar in Jesus’ time, when contact with a person who had a skin disease meant certain physical contamination.  The person with the disease lived in a time where there were few reliable medical remedies.  You had to stay clean or be banished from family and friends and just die.  And so we can understand why the man with leprosy was doubtful about Jesus coming close to him, and yet he has faith that God can work a gift of healing through Jesus, and he says to Jesus: “ If you want to, you can cure me.” Our Lord feels compassion for the man and does the complete opposite of what makes sense.  Anyone who knew that they were in contact with a contagious person would back off from the sick person, but Jesus actively goes towards him and stretches out his hand to reach out to him. Jesus answers him and says: “Of course I want to heal you.”  This response is the total opposite of the survival instinct which we have.  We see that Jesus is willing to go to the darkest and most fearful places that human beings can find themselves in.  There are “no go” areas for Jesus, not even death itself. He is willing to come into the memories and experiences that we most deeply want to avoid in order to free us from the darkness they contain.

It is not for us to stand in judgement on one another, but rather to mirror the welcome of Jesus even for those whose beliefs or practices we might find strange or shocking. When doing so, we proclaim the Christian belief that everyone can find a home in the family of Jesus. Our first task is to keep the door to this family open wide, to make space for others to enter in God’s own time and way, however the other might seem to us.  Pope Francis teaches this powerfully in Evangelli Gaudium, “The joy of the Gospel”, where he reminds us that the Eucharist is “not a prize for the perfect but a powerful medicine and nourishment for the weak”. He goes onto say:” the Church is not a tollhouse ; it is the house of the Father, where there is a place for everyone, with all their problems”. 

It is not for us to judge, but rather to recognize our own sinfulness and to offer the same welcome and compassion that we hope to receive from ourselves. That is why forgiveness is at the heart of the prayer Jesus taught us. He puts the grace of forgiving and being forgiven alongside daily survival itself. Daily bread and daily forgiveness are the recipe for spiritual health, but the choice is always ours. It is easy to highlight the faults of others, while we can be blind to our own sinfulness. At the heart of Jesus’ teaching is mercy and compassion, he is willing to heal us of all our darkness, but are we willing to open up that darkness to his healing touch? And are we willing to become healers ourselves? That is the secret of evangelization, helping others to return to Jesus for his powerful gift of mercy, compassion, forgiveness and love.

Fr. Joe

This Wednesday, February 17th, the LENTEN JOURNEY begins with  ASH WEDNESDAY


7:00AM Mass & Ashes

8:45AM – Mass & Ashes

12 Noon – Mass & Ashes

4:00PM Liturgy of the Word with Ashes

7:00PM Mass & Ashes

Stations of the Cross on Friday evenings- Main Church 

6:45PM – English – 7:45PM _ Italian