Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time
February 14, 2021 — Year B
Readings: Lv 13:1-2, 44-46 / Ps 32 / 1 Cor 10:31-11:1 / Mk 1:40-45
by Rev. Mr. Eddie Craig, Permanent Deacon
Today, we have another of Jesus’ early miracles—the healing of the leper. The idea of miracles can be a contentious topic. A lot of people have a hard time believing in miracles. It’s not just something that is going on in our day and time. Famously, Thomas Jefferson had a problem with it, so much so, that he took a razor blade and cut out from the Gospels any hints of Jesus’s divinity or anything to do with miracles.
Our Catholic faith, however, disagrees. In fact, as part of the process of determining a person’s qualification for sainthood, they look for miracles. I personally know people in our church and elsewhere who have experienced miraculous events.
It seems silly, if people can profess that they believe in God, the Father Almighty, creator of heaven and earth, that at the same time, some people have trouble believing that God can intervene in a different way, a way that is miraculous. In our gospel today, we have a miracle. It is a testament to the power of Jesus Christ and a sign that He is different.
When we are studying the Gospel, we are encouraged to go beyond the base level, not to dismiss the miraculous, but to look even deeper and discern how this gospel may hold a particular message for us. One common technique, when we come across a story in the Gospels in which a person is not named, is to put ourselves in place of the unnamed person.
Imagine that you, like this leper, are sick and cut off from society. You are separated from family and friends. You’re not even allowed to go to worship. You come before Jesus and He reaches out and touches you. You are healed.
Jesus can do that for us, whether we are sick physically, spiritually, mentally, or whether we are just feeling isolated and cut off from others. Jesus, even today, has the power to touch us, to heal us, to bring us back into the fold.
A second technique for studying a Gospel story, is to look at what Jesus does and imagine what lesson we can take from His actions. We are the Body of Christ, the Church. We are called to act as Jesus did. As Jesus did in the gospel today, we are called to reach out to those on the margins: those that are sick and isolated, those who are struggling, to touch them and help them to be healed. When we do that, in the name of Jesus, we are acting in His place. It allows the grace of God to flow through us to that person.
On all of these levels, this Gospel story today is a beautiful example of what Bishop Barron calls, “the loop of grace.” Grace is an interesting thing. Grace is freely given. It flows forth from God through our interactions and through the sacraments. But there is a catch. If you try to hold onto it, grace disappears. If, however, you give it away, if you pass it on, it grows within you and spreads out from you. It spreads from this church of Holy Name of Mary and through all churches, from all people who are acting in the name of Jesus Christ.
St. Paul, in the second reading today, said, “Do everything for the glory of God.” If we do that, looking to Jesus Christ as our model and acting as He did, we can do our part to strengthen the Kingdom in our time.