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Sixth Sunday Ordinary Time Homily

 

 

We Are The Hands And Feet Of Jesus In Our World Today

 

In reading about the victim of leprosy in today’s gospel, we might be reminded of how coronavirus victims were treated just a few years ago, and sometimes even today. They were isolated from others so as not to infect them. Even Jesus would not have been allowed to visit such victims. And that was the situation regarding lepers in Jesus’ time. Somehow the man himself managed to break through the taboos isolating him as an outcast. And there he is at Jesus’ feet begging of him, “If you want to, you can cure me.” Jesus also breaks through a major taboo and touches the man saying, “Of course I want to! Be cured!” And he was cured at once.


But Jesus did not cure all lepers of all time, so we tend to ask: Why all this suffering, especially of innocent children and helpless people? Of course, much suffering can be blamed on us—on our harsh treatment of one another. And all suffering caused by war can be blamed on humanity. Many natural disasters, too, come from how we have disturbed the ecosystem. But putting these aside, the big question remains: Why so much suffering if God is so good?


Since we are limited human beings in a limited world, there will be suffering and trials. Suffering is part of the reality of being limited. But God comes to us in Jesus, and Jesus enters into our limitations and suffers along with us—he is full of compassion. He is our companion and strength in our sufferings. Jesus raises the sick, touches lepers, welcomes children, gives support and encouragement, blessing and companionship to all.


But his healing does not directly extend to all people of all times. It works through us in various ways. Surely, medical science and various technologies have brought humanity great health and happiness. But there are still many physical and spiritual miseries that we have to take care of. We are the hands and feet, the eyes and smiles of Jesus in our world today. I felt this when I spent 6 weeks in a hospital 10 years ago and felt Jesus working for me through the professional and compassionate hands of the doctors and nurses, and even of the cleaning and maintenance staff.


Christian charity is a response to immediate needs: feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the sick, help the homeless. They do not need explanations or sermons. They need our presence, our nearness, and whatever help we can give them. We can give them our time and our respect so as to take them seriously and encourage them in their struggle against sadness and grief. We may have to put up with their irritability and frustration, their anxiety for the future, their frustrated hopes. It may not be easy to listen, but if we put ourselves in their place and listen to what they say or do not say, we may help them come to terms with themselves, strive for interior peace, and come to believe in the bigger healing Jesus brought about through his own suffering and death—the assurance and healing power of his resurrection!


Those limited miracles that Jesus performed point beyond death to the Father of mercy and compassion, who shares our suffering when Jesus suffers with us and for us to give us eternal life. Eternal life does not mean some future afterlife sitting forever on fluffy clouds. Eternal life means that God is with us here and now, giving us his Son in the Eucharist and filling us with his Spirit to guide us. God loves us so much that he made himself able to live and rejoice with us, to share our suffering and death so as to show us the way to eternal life and ask us to be associated with him in healing the many wounds of the world.


As today’s Mass leaflet says on the front page: “Let each one of us reflect today on how often in life Jesus has not only touched and healed us, but, more importantly, how we can answer his call to care for one another. We can remind ourselves of this especially today, which is our World Day of the Sick, in commemoration of Our Lady’s first appearance at Lourdes, where so many cures take place to this day.


One more thing. I suppose you are aware that this coming Wednesday, February 14, is Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. I also suppose you are aware that it is Valentine’s Day. Now, it is up to each of us to thank people for whatever kindness they may show us, but it is also up to us to figure out how to observe the first day of Lent in union with Jesus as he approaches his passion, and in union with victims of natural and human disasters, victims of earthquakes and wars, victims of sickness and poverty. May the good Lord fill you with Christian wisdom!
 


 

By Fr Robert Chiesa Sj

 

 

 

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