Sunday Reflection: Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time - 2021 - Saint John's Seminary
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Sunday Reflection: Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time - 2021

February 14, 2021

Sunday reflection by Very Reverend Stephen E. Salocks, Rector of Saint John's Seminary - February 14, 2021

"I turn to you, Lord, in time of trouble, and you fill me with the joy of salvation." Responsorial Psalm 32

Today the Church calls all the faithful to rejoice in the light of the healing and salvation that God sends to us in and through our Lord Jesus Christ. The prayer of the Church turns our attention to God who “abides in hearts that are just and true,” and implores that “we may be so fashioned by His grace as to become a dwelling pleasing to Him.” In the Gospel, Jesus heals the leper and restores him to the life and relationships of the community.

We want to appreciate that Jesus’ encounter with the leper was about more than just the physical healing of the man. Jesus’ personal and compassionate care of the man was entirely consistent with how he has acted and responded to the afflicted throughout the first chapter of Mark’s Gospel.

The encounter with the leper shows Jesus continuing to confront the conditions that separate people from each other. The possessed man in the synagogue (that we heard about two weeks ago) was afflicted, disturbed, and frightening both to himself and others. Peter’s mother-in-law (that we heard about last week) could not take her place and fulfill her role in the family. The leper today was alienated by the unclean nature of his disease. Those who Jesus heals are identified, especially by their conditions. They are described by what makes them different and sets them apart: “a man with an unclean spirit,” a mother-in-law “sick with a fever,” “all who were sick or possessed with demons,” and “a leper.” In every case, by word or touch, Jesus both heals and restores the person to the family and the community.

Today's Gospel offers several points to ponder, but let us note two of them. First, by telling the healed man to “tell no one anything,” we sense that Jesus (and the Evangelist Mark) wanted to make sure that anyone who strives to follow Jesus sees in Him more than just his power to heal. The disciple of Jesus also needs to hear and act on his teaching, to be open to and ready to confess the mystery of his identity and to be ready to take up the cross as Jesus does in humble service to both God and neighbor.

Second, the healed leper's actions, as he humbly and prayerfully approaches Jesus, remind us that we should never hesitate or believe that we are so unworthy that we cannot approach our Lord. The man acted with the faith of today’s Psalm Response: “I turn to you, Lord, in time of trouble, and you fill me with the joy of salvation.” While Psalm 32 is a hymn for those who know they have sinned and are overjoyed by God’s forgiveness, it is also an invitation to join the praise of God’s effort to bring healing, forgiveness, and reconciliation into our lives. We find worthiness not by means of our own efforts but by allowing God to heal us and make us whole.

While we will never have to suffer from the debilitating and isolating disease of leprosy, we know how sin can harm and isolate us. As Lent begins this week, our reflection today can help us begin our self-examination, prompt us to think and pray about how we will focus on the person of our Lord, and be open to approaching him for his healing and forgiveness during the penitential season.

Today, we pray that by the saving action of our merciful and loving God, we may feel the healing touch of his Son in ways that break down barriers and unite us more strongly to God, to our faith communities, to our families, and one another.