Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time
February 14, 2021 Cycle B
by Rev. Jose Maria Cortes, F.S.C.E., Chaplain,
Saint John Paul II National Shrine
 Washington, D.C.

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Sunday Reading Meditations

In today’s Gospel, Jesus heals a leper. Leprosy used to be considered both a physical and spiritual disease. Isolated from the community, lepers were seemingly abandoned by God and men. Today’s first reading says: “He shall dwell apart, making his abode outside the camp” (Lv 13:46).

According to rabbinical teaching, only God could cure leprosy. For Jesus to heal a leper was a feat comparable to raising someone from the dead,, a sign that the Messiah had come. As today’s alleluia refrain says, “A great prophet has arisen in our midst, God has visited his people.”

“A leper came to Jesus and kneeling down begged him and said, ‘If you wish, you can make me clean’” (Mk 1:40). In the leper’s petition, we hear all mankind pleading to Jesus for healing.

“Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand, touched him” (Mk 1:41). In this gesture of mercy toward the leper, we see God’s infinite love toward us. As Saint John says, “God so loved the world that he gave his Only Begotten Son, so that all who believe in him may not perish, but may have eternal life” (Jn 3:16).

By healing the leper, Christ shows us that he forgives our sins and gives us new life. As the psalm says, “Then I acknowledged my sin to you, my guilt I covered not. I said, ‘I confess my faults to the LORD,’ and you took away the guilt of my sin” (Ps 32:5).

Encountering Christ is life-changing. We are renewed and transformed. We perceive people and things in a new way. We are fashioned by God’s grace. Jesus heals us from sin and fills our hearts with pure gladness. As today’s psalm says, “Be glad in the LORD and rejoice, you just; exult, all you upright of heart” (Ps 32:11). The psalm refrain says: “I turn to you, Lord, in time of trouble, and you fill me with the joy of salvation.”

The new light from above impels us to glorify God. In today’s second reading, Saint Paul says: “Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God” (1 Cor 10:31).

Encountering Christ opens our hearts to the needs of others. We are no longer the center of everything. Instead of thinking only about our personal interests, others’ interests come first. As Saint Paul says, “I try to please everyone in every way, not seeking my own benefit but that of the many” (1 Cor 10:33). We prioritize not our own benefit but that of others.

Encountering Christ conquers loneliness and isolation. During the current pandemic, we are experiencing how hard it is to be separated from the sacraments, family and friends. Jesus tells the leper to show himself to the priest and do what Moses prescribed, thereby reinstating him into the community. In Christ, we are united with God and others. Encountering Christ is an experience of communion.

May the grace of our personal encounter with Christ be renewed. May the Lord purify our sins and give us his life in abundance. May we experience the passage from isolation to communion with God and all things. May the Lord help us to do everything for his glory.  Amen.