Sunday, February 15, 2009
In ten days the Church will once again celebrate Ash Wednesday and then enter into the Holy season of Lent. We commit ourselves to pray, fast and give alms during Lent. The penitential character of the season is in preparation for our encounter with the Risen Lord. This of course is after we have entered into deep reflection upon His Sorrowful Passion. The readings today can help us in our preparations for Lent. The Leper in the Gospel can be a particular challenge to us today. I would dare to say that none of us have the Courage of this man. In the first reading today we hear the Law of Moses with regard to those with leprosy. They are to call out to people "Unclean, Unclean!" as they traveled. In other words they are forbidden by the Law to come into contact with others, or even draw near to them. Yet in the Gospel we see that this man had the Courage to draw near to Jesus and ask Him if He wanted to heal him. He was expressly forbidden to do this by the Law of His religion. Yet He drew near to Jesus. His misery drove him to Jesus' feet. There is no law that prevents us from drawing near to Jesus. No one is telling us that we have to stay away from the Lord. It is just the opposite in fact; we are constantly being invited to draw near to Jesus, and to trust in His Divine Mercy. Still we have no Courage. The leper was told to stay away yet he drew near; we are told draw near and instead we stay away. There can only be two reasons for our cowardly and selfish behavior. The first is suffering and the second is sin. Both cause our souls to be isolated and alienated. Both cause us to feel far from God. We do not have leprosy but we certainly feel unclean, damaged, and ugly. How could the Lord possibly want us to draw near? Courage! Both also cause a distortion in the way we see ourselves; we express a much to inflated opinion of ourselves in order to hide the deeper truth that we often think very little of ourselves. Our surety masks our insecurity, and our actions betray the longing of our hearts. Courage! Come to the feet of Jesus in your misery. Be like the leper this Lent. Start today, do not be afraid. Stop listening to your wounds, whether self inflicted or suffered from another. Stop listening to you sins, whether you enjoy them or not. Follow the miserable leper's example today and come to the Lord. Courage! Ask Jesus if He wants to heal you. Do not be afraid. Draw near to the Foot of the Cross you will find that you are loved. You will recognise that our Lord's Love is Merciful, and you will come to see yourself for who you are, as beloved son or daughter of God.