Ministry opportunity of the week: support the 2018 Catholic Stewardship Appeal which has the theme “Dare to Lead.” Today I highlight support of St. Francis Seminary and the 56 men in formation to become priests, certainly a worthwhile cause. Please watch for the mailing and be as generous as possible.
Lent begins on Wednesday. As we did for Advent, we have two handouts available in the back of church or the parish office: a booklet of daily Lenten reflections by Henri Nouwen entitled Christ Our Hope and a Lenten calendar of activities for children. Please take advantage of these resources to enhance the Lenten experience for you and your family.
As in Advent, we will have Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament during Lent on Friday mornings. Br. Silas is also giving a three hour mini-retreat and a three-session series on Saturdays. Please find more information in the bulletin and take advantage of these growth opportunities.
Leprosy was a horrible disease for the people at the time of Jesus. In addition to the physical suffering of a body that is decomposing, lepers were outcasts, banned from the community and even contact with their families. And to add insult to injury, it was believed that the disease was a punishment for sin.
There are two aspects of Jesus’ response to the man with leprosy that Mark makes sure he highlights in today’s Gospel story: first, Jesus was moved with pity. Not repulsion, not condemnation, but pity. Jesus is compassionate to the man, not condemning. Second, Jesus reaches out and touches the man. That is forbidden. It makes Jesus unclean. But he breaks social norms and reaches out to this isolated, condemned man and touches him, bringing healing not only to his body but also to his soul.
Jesus invites us, his followers, to do likewise: to look on the other with compassion, to break societal norms and be inclusive, to reach out and touch the one who is suffering. At a minimum, we will help banish isolation and shame. This is a critical aspect of being a Christian, of sharing Christ’s name. It is non-negotiable. Let us pray this week that the Lord might help us, as individuals and a community, to grow in our ability to be merciful and inclusive, reaching out to the other in need.
-- Paul James Portland, SDS
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