Wherever we meet Him, we receive compassion and tender kindness
by Sister Carolyn Zahringer
Sunday, Feb. 14, is:
- The Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time
- Valentine's Day
- Just days before Lent begins
- An invitation by St. Paul for us to “be imitators … of Christ”
- An invitation to experience healing
The Gospel (Mk. 1:40-45) shares a story of a leper being restored to health. The leper begs, “If you wish, you can make me clean.” Jesus is moved with pity and replies: “I do will it. Be made clean.”
The leper was on a journey of faith. The concept of journey is woven into life in a literal way and a spiritual way through our personal faith development. The leper in the story had to journey from the place where lepers were made to live because of their disease. He also made the journey of faith from a “safe” dwelling to search out Jesus to heal him. Who and what did he encounter as he made his way to Jesus? This can be our question as well.
In a recent copy of The Compass newspaper, a Twitter message from Pope Francis read as follows:
“We are always on a journey in life. Let us choose the path of God! We will discover that there are no unexpected events, no uphill path, and no night that cannot be faced with Jesus.”
With all that has happened in our outer and inner world in 2020 and still is part of our reality in 2021, the “dis-ease” we feel is an invitation to journey in faith at a deeper level. As the Lenten season draws near, we might ask ourselves:
- What have I/we done with our days of quarantine?
- How have I/we reached out to strengthen our relationship with the Lord and with others?
God bless our daily journey.
Quoting Sister Carolyn:
"Who and what did he [the leper] encounter as he made his way to Jesus?"
I like this question. It lends itself for some thoughtful, creative contemplation on the greater impact -- the wider circle -- of an encounter with JESUS. That is, it gives our hearts [imaginations] not only the chance to empathize with the leper, in the full range of his emotions -- from his daily experiences of alienation, rejection, un-wantedness and unworthiness -- to his 'new' reality of wholeness and belonging -- but in asking this question, Sr. Carolyn allows us to imagine what it was like for the people who had shunned, taunted, or even blamed and condemned this man for his leprosy?
What kind of 'change of heart / attitude' came over each one of these people as they saw JESUS heal one who was both a social and religious outcast?
It would be both interesting - and a good 'prayer-practice' to imagine a few different personalities and characters who had their own kind of 'conversion,' 'repentance,' 'healing,' or even 'empowerment' from witnessing what transpired between JESUS and the faith-filled, determined, courageous leper. And to ask ourselves which kind of character would I be?
Maybe that's a good way to get us into the true spirit of Lent, our annual journey of conversion, healing, and growth. It would make for a good day of reflection -- to gain insight into ourselves, and to learn from and with the insights and experiences of others.