Catholic Mass Readings and Reflection February 11, 2024


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R/. You are a hiding place for me; you surround me with cries of deliverance.

V/. Alleluia R/. Alleluia

V/. A great prophet has arisen among us, and God has visited his 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)      We live in a prevalent situation of sickness. It is not only the physical, but much more the emotional, moral and spiritual.

In the biblical context, in reference to today’s Word of God, this is the “leprosy”. There are always traces of woundedness, uncleanness, corroding of values and estrangement from others – the typical leprous situation.

In the light of the leper in the gospel, we can draw some lessons for our life:

  • i. Realize: realize that we are lepers, unclean. This is the first thing in the process of healing. Realize that we are unworthy, undeserving, and we do not really merit God’s grace and mercy. That is why, the leper addresses Jesus, “If you will, you can make me clean”.
  • ii.      Desire: Nurture a genuine desire to be healed. Be genuinely motivated to get rid of the interior leprosy. Desire or motivation is the driving force toward healing, and often the lack of it obstructs the process of healing.
  • iii.      Trust: Trust in him that he will heal us. Trusting is also not something propositional, which is merely believing some truths and doctrines. Trusting is more a matter of deep conviction in the power and goodness of God. Trusting involves a warm and intimate relationship with the Lord.
  • iv.      Surrender: With awareness and motivation, one needs to surrender oneself totally to God. Surrender is not a sense of helplessness or a passive resignation to overhauling situations. True surrender implies a profound trust in God and readily and eagerly approaching the Lord.
  • v.      Bear witness: Once healed and cleaned, what next? Bear witness! In the light of the second reading from the first letter to the Corinthians, we can easily pool together certain features of this bearing witness, especially from the second reading, 1 Corinthians 10.31 – 11.1.

2) One ingredient is: “All for God’s glory”. There is no self-seeking, no seeking self-glory. Self is not at the centre but God alone. Whatever one does, in all that one does, whether big or small and whatever be the domain of action, whether spiritual or material, one does everything for God’s glory.

3) Another component of witness is “Imitate Christ”. Paul confidently exhorts others to imitate him just as he imitates Christ. Let one not blame Paul for being complacent or self-righteous. Rather, such a statement only shows the depth of his conviction and authenticity.

    One can declare so, only when one is sincere about it, only when one’s imitation of Christ is not debatable or spurious. Today, some gifted or highly competent followers of Christ may claim that they are imitators of Christ. Maybe!

    But one has to constantly check and see whether such claims are ugly heads of overbearing self and self-projection. The only criterion for one’s imitating Jesus is the quality of life. The simplest test is whether one’s life conforms with Jesus’ own person, life and mission.

    4)      Another feature is “No offence to anyone”. If one is a healed person, one becomes highly respectful toward others. He will take utmost care that he does not become offensive to anyone.

    In the present times, this hurting and offensive trend is increasing. In the name of fighting for justice or rights, standing for truth, opposing injustice and demanding good governance, or promoting right values, many become so ruthlessly offensive and condemnatory.

    One should remember that charity is the supreme principle, and no one has a right to offend another, whatever be the issue.

    5)      The other features that can be assembled together are: “No self-advantage”, “But the advantage of many”, and “Pleasing all”. In contrast to a virulent search for self-interests, self-advantage and self-pleasing, we are called to set aside our selfish gains and pleasures. Always be focused on how to help and benefit others, and how to promote the larger good.

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