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Pastor's Letter 20240211- 11 February 2024 - 6th Sunday in Ordinary Time

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February 11th, 2024

Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time


Jesus heals the Leper

 Message from Father Michael

Today’s Theme:  “Ritually Unclean”

Reflections on Today’s Scripture

(Leviticus 13:1-46)  People with leprosy* were considered ritually unclean in Biblical times, unfit to participate with the rest of the community in worship, and compelled to live apart from the general public.  Even today, insidious and unfamiliar diseases frighten us, and we seek cures at all cost.


(1 Corinthians 10:31-11:1)  Paul urges us never to do anything offensive to anyone, but to do everything for the glory of God.  Against the scourge of sin, threatening to alienate us from grace, the community of believers must stand together, strengthened as one.


(Mark 1:40-45)  Jesus’ cure of the leper brought much consternation from the public-at-large, and even from His own disciples.  But He taught us that there is something more dreadful and subtle than any physical illness—sin— against which we win immunity only by conversion to the healing power of Jesus Christ.


Acceptance and Rejection

To be sure, leprosy* is a terrible disease, but in many respects, it pales to being unloved, unwanted or abandoned.  Rejection is one of the worst things anyone can do to another human being, and hurts beyond any other state or emotion.  It damages self-image and makes people feel worthless, making them want to “shrivel up” and openly rebel.  As an example of its negative connotation, in one African tribe, being ostracized from the community is used as capital punishment. 

Children, the elderly and the handicapped are particularly devastated by rejection.  Abandonment by their parents can be equivalent to death for a child.  For the elderly, fear of rejection is worse than all their infirmities combined.  The deepest wounds for handicapped people are caused not by their physical or mental illness, but by the rejection they experience.  Creative people—writers, artists, etc.—are acutely vulnerable to being rebuffed, no matter what successes they’ve had.  Each of us, to some extent, has felt the pain of rejection.  

Normal reactions to avoid rejection include insulating oneself, avoiding relationships, risking little, wanting or needing nothing.  For some, it seems better to “build walls” and avoid relationships than to risk suffering rejection.  But this is like “cutting off one’s feet, so as not to need shoes.”

The man who approached Jesus, in today’s Gospel Reading, was a “reject.”  Forced to live outside his community, he dressed in torn clothing, wore his hair unkempt and announced “unclean, unclean,” and rang a bell in the presence of everyone.  People were loath to touch him, for fear of contracting his malady, and considered him to be suffering for sins he had committed.  Thus, lepers were considered to have been rejected by God, as well.  

When we reject people, we are, in effect, treating them as “lepers,” too, even though we may not be conscious of this.  We can reject people in subtle ways—by a “tone of voice,” or by “a look.” Such “pinpricks” of rejection can accumulate, having serious long-term effects. 

The interesting thing is not that Christ cured the leper, but the manner in which He did it.  Jesus “cut through” all the fear of contamination and dread, and was moved with compassion for him.  He reached out and touched him—a sign of “welcome”—and repaired his sense of being “dirty” and unworthy—nothing but “human scrap.”  Besides healing his human body, he healed his broken self-image.  

Jesus accepted the leper for “who he was.” Acceptance is the answer to rejection.  It is one of the loveliest things that can happen to us.  When people “accept us,” they give us a feeling that we are worthwhile.  Each of us longs to be accepted for what we are.  It is the love of acceptance of others that makes us the unique persons we are.  Acceptance for our skills or labor does not make us unique, for others can do the same work—perhaps even better than we do!  But when we are accepted for who we are, we become distinctive and irreplaceable; able to realize our full potential.

This is how our Blessed Lord, Jesus, accepted the leper; and how He accepts us, as well.  In turn, it is how we, also, may learn to accept others, and reach out to those who are suffering the pain of rejection.  In doing so, we can rekindle hope; and bring back the “zest for life” in someone else; we dimly mirror the infinite compassion of God.  

May God Richly Bless You!


And This Is Love.docx

To view a recording of today's Holy Mass, click here:

*Hippocrates is thought to have described the symptoms of leprosy as early as 460 B.C., and skeletal evidence from 2000 B.C. has been discovered. Norway’s Dr. Gerhard Hansen is credited for discovering the causative agent, a bacterium named Microsporium Leprae, in 1873.  Leprosy is routinely called “Hansen’s disease,” in recognition of his work.  An effective treatment wasn’t developed until the 1940s.  Each year, as many as 150 people contract the disease in the US, with up to 250,000 cases diagnosed, worldwide. 

Edited by Father Michael
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