Catholic Mass Readings and Reflection January 11, 2024


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R/. Redeem us, O Lord, with your merciful love!

V/. Alleluia R/. Alleluia

V/. Jesus was proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction among the people.

R/. Alleluia

At that time: A leper came to Jesus, imploring him, and kneeling said to him, “If you will, you can make me clean.” Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand and touched him and said to him, “I will; be clean.” And immediately the leprosy left him, and he was made clean. And Jesus sternly charged him and sent him away at once, and said to him, “See that you say nothing to anyone, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded, for a proof to them.” But he went out and began to talk freely about it, and to spread the news, so that Jesus could no longer openly enter a town, but was out in desolate places, and people were coming to him from every quarter.

1.      In the first reading from 1 Samuel 4. 1-11, we have a very interesting episode. The Israelites were defeated by the Philistines. Then, they bring the ark of the covenant of the Lord to the battle camp and fight again being dead sure of their victory.

2.       But again they are defeated worse than before. Even the ark of the covenant was captured and the two sons of Eli, the priest were also killed.

3.       This looks very strange and even very discouraging. They trusted in the presence of God through the ark of the covenant and they expected that God’s mighty power would defeat their enemies.

4.       But not only did they lose the battle but also the ark itself was captured. Does it mean that the Lord is not powerful? Does it mean that He is indifferent? Does it mean that the presence of God makes no difference in our life battles against evil?

5.       Nothing of these. Perhaps, the point here is the need for humility, trust, and surrender. They trusted in the ark of the Lord; but did they really trust in the Lord of the ark?

6.       They thought that the very physical placement of the ark in the camp would ensure their victory, while there was no place for God in their hearts or camp.

7.       They expected a magical display of God’s power but did not allow Him to personally take control of the situation. They were not humble enough to plead with God. They did not surrender themselves to God for His protection.

8.       Rather they surrendered themselves to the ark. They gave more importance to the symbol and ignored the Lord symbolized. Perhaps, this reminds us that having holy things in our possession and dealing habitually with them is no guarantee for protection and success.

9.       In contrast, in the gospel, we have a leper who stands as an example of humility, trust, and surrender. He was humble to realize his misery of leprosy and the need for healing. He was humble to implore Jesus and kneel before him. He was humble to respect Jesus’ freedom, saying, “If you will…”

10.   He trusted in Jesus’ power as well as mercy. That is why, he says, “If you will, you can make me clean”. He surrendered himself totally to Jesus’ will. Hence, he was rewarded with healing.

11.   Jesus was personally moved with compassion, stretched out his hand, touched him, said to him, “I will; be clean” and thus healed him.

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