Homily – Deacon Pat - Mark 1:40-45
God’s Healing Touch
In today’s gospel, we heard that a leper approached Jesus with strong faith and with a humble heart asked for healing.
Seeing his faith and humility, Jesus stretched out His hand and touched him with love and mercy.
That touch to the leper bridged the gap between what is clean and what was unclean, and in that connection he purified the man and he was healed.
We all need healing from some kind of leprosy that separates us from our true selves, from others, and from God.
But what is this so-called Leprosy that I speak of?
· Is our leprosy a pervasive selfishness?
· Is it an addiction to alcohol, drugs, food, excessive internet shopping, gambling, or pornography?
· It is a chronic expression of anger, rudeness, hostility, self-centeredness, or righteousness?
· Is it gossip, or an unhealth addiction to the internet and social media?
The list could go on and on….
Weakness in many ways goes hand in hand with being human does it not?
We all know our weaknesses, don’t we?
Especially if we are practicing the Catholic practice of examining our conscience on a daily basis, reflecting each night during our prayers on not only the blessing from the day but also on our failures, our sins, and our short comings.
Those who have kept the discipline of the daily examine are well aware of their spiritual leprosy.
And those that are aware have three choices:
· They can try to rationalize away their weakness. The devil loves that!
· They can live in a sense of personal shame while doing nothing about it. The devil likes that too!
· Or, they can turn to Christ and ask for healing. You can image how the devil feels about that.
I think most of us here would agree that to be human is to battle against inclinations and temptations that often are contrary to a Godly choice or what we would consider a virtue.
I would bet that many of us here would also agree that even the most fervent and devout Catholic will slip and fall to temptation from time to time.
But what separates those who are actually embracing the faith and God’s Sacraments from those who are not, are those who run toward Christ when they sin.
Running to Christ means running to the Church and her Sacraments as in the Sacrament of healing, also known as the Sacrament of Reconciliation or Confession.
This is where we reach out to God with a contrite spirit and humbly ask for forgiveness and our soul is washed clean by God’s touch of grace.
Yes, it takes humility and faith to go to confession.
Just as the Leper in the gospel surely showed humility and faith as he approached and spoke to Jesus, and asked to be healed.
Isn’t it remarkable how these Gospel passages can speak to us directly if we allow them to?
· Ask, and God shall hear.
· Ask and God can heal.
And when we are healed, we can then be an agent of further healing to others.
Yes, it takes faith and courage, but Jesus calls each one of us to destroy the walls that separate us from Him, and from others, and to welcome the outcasts and the untouchables of society.
Those outcasts and those untouchables might just be some that we can call family, relatives, friends, acquaintances, or even co-workers.
God’s loving hand must reach out to the poor, the sick, and lepers — this often can be done through us — and Jesus wants us to touch their lives.
And how we touch their lives does not need to be great missionary feats or enormous acts.
They can be very simple as Saint Teresa of Calcutta taught us through her motto: “Do small things with great love,” her “small things” left a big impact on the lives of so many of the poor and outcast.
Yet Mother Teresa’s lived wisdom taught us even more as she said, “The biggest disease today is not leprosy, but rather the feeling of being lonely and unwanted.”
I know this personally to be true after spending over three decades serving those in the mental health system.
The pain of loneliness and the feeling of being unwanted is a greater sorrow, a deeper ache, than any other disease I am aware of.
And yet, this pain and sorrow at times can be so easily relived.
All it might take is for someone to be willing to be Christ-like to them.
I recall a story I once heard of St. Francis of Assisi encountering and kissed a leper on the road.
The leper soon disappeared and then Francis realized that he had embraced and kissed Christ.
I wonder how many opportunities we have had to meet Christ on the road of our daily lives and missed those opportunities due to being too distracted, too self-focused, or just too unbothered?
Our Pope Francis very often says that, “Our Church community should be seen as a hospital for sinners, not as a hotel for saints.”
Lets us begin today seeing our own faults first.
This will keep us humble.
Let us also pledge that we will run toward Christ when we sin and ask for His forgiveness.
And Finally, as we prepare ourselves to receive in just a short time the Most Holy Eucharist, Christ himself in body, blood, soul, and divinity, that we accept his healing touch.
That He will open our hearts to see those in our families and in our community who are hurting.
And that we will share God’s love and mercy with them as we would share with Christ himself.
Praise be Jesus Christ, Now and Forever.