February 11th 2018

Contents:

  1. Parish Bulletin for Holy Family and Sacred Heart
  2. Newsletter for St Benedict's
  3. This Sunday's Readings
  4. Sunday Reflection

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This Sunday's Readings

First Reading                           Leviticus 13:1-2.44-46

The Lord said to Moses and Aaron, 'If a swelling or scab or shiny spot appears on a man's skin, a case of leprosy of the skin is to be suspected. The man must be taken to Aaron, the priest, or to one of the priests who are his sons. The man is leprous: he is unclean. The priest must declare him unclean; he is suffering from leprosy of the head. A man infected with leprosy must wear his clothing torn and his hair disordered; he must shield his upper lip and cry, "Unclean, unclean." As long as the disease lasts he must be unclean; and therefore he must live apart: he must live outside the camp.'


Second Reading                         I Corinthians 10:31-11:1

Whatever you eat, whatever you drink, whatever you do at all, do it for the glory of God. Never do anything offensive to anyone - to Jews or Greeks or to the Church of God; just as I try to be helpful to everyone at all times, not anxious for my own advantage but for the advantage of everybody else, so that they may be saved. Take me for your model, as I take Christ.


Gospel Reading                            Mark 1:40-45

A leper came to Jesus and pleaded on his knees: 'If you want to' he said 'you can cure me.' Feeling sorry for him, Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him. 'Of course I want to!' he said. 'Be cured!' And the leprosy left him at once and he was cured. Jesus immediately sent him away and sternly ordered him, 'Mind you say nothing to anyone, but go and show yourself to the priest, and make the offering for your healing prescribed by Moses as evidence of your recovery.' The man went away, but then started talking about it freely and telling the story everywhere, so that Jesus could no longer go openly into any town, but had to stay outside in places where nobody lived. Even so, people from all around would come to him.


Sunday Reflection 6th Sunday in Ordinary Time (11.02.18)

Contagion!

Contagion is a word laden with overtones of illness. These days, it is commonly associated with such deadly infections as, for example, Ebola. But it would be unfair to limit the word contagion in this negative way for it has a wider embrace. It is quite legitimate to use the word contagion to describe an upturn of honesty or justice especially where both were previously absent or severely compromised.

Equally, the morally strengthening and life-enhancing transmission of God's grace from one person to another can be described as contagious. People have this experience, at an international level, at pilgrimage centres such as Lourdes and Fatima. A contagious experience of God's presence can also happen on a much smaller scale, as Jesus said:
"For where two or three gather together in My name, there am I with them." (Matt.18:20)

People also speak about 'contagious laughter' where just one or more person can communicate an infectious enjoyment to a huge assembly. Audiences regularly pay to attend the performances of artists whose professionalism brings contagious delight through sport, theatre or the concert hall.

The biological contagion of leprosy features in both the First Reading and the Gospel of this 6th Sunday. In the ancient world leprosy was a much-feared contagious infection with no known cure. The incidence of leprosy in Europe is much less today thanks to antibiotics though it is still quite prevalent in parts of Africa. Leprosy is a long-term disease, lasting between five and twenty years, that deforms the human body. Thankfully, victims of leprosy under treatment are no longer contagious, as they once were.

The scriptural highlighting of leprosy this Sunday allows us to reflect that there are many forms of non-biological contagion that increasingly deform the human person in our 21st century. In addition to war, starvation, malnutrition and the lack of clean water, there's the contagion of plausible theories of evolution, for example, that bypass the Creator God capturing the minds of the gullible and the spiritually depleted. Then there's the contagion of insufficiently restricted advertising which drives the unwary to excesses that cripple not only financially but also morally, physically and spiritually. Contagious concupiscence pours from TV screens, radio and print media entrapping and corrupting the likeness to God with which people are born. Jesus sounded the alert about the power of Evil that threatens the soul as well as the body:
"Do not be afraid of those who kill the body
but cannot kill the soul.
Instead, fear the One who can kill
both body and soul in Hell." (Matt.10:28)

The word contagion originates from the Latin - 'con' meaning 'with' and 'tangere' meaning 'to touch'. The active believing Baptised effect good contagion when who we are and how we live 'touches' others to their benefit, here and hereafter! When we assemble to celebrate as the visible Body of Christ on earth, the Church, our corporate enthusiasm, devotion and commitment to our Redeemer, Jesus the Christ, should be revitalised by our reception of the Word of God and the Sacrament of Eucharist.

Then we, as revivified disciples of Christ, should leave church to positively embrace the world carrying His joy in our hearts to share with all we will meet during the day.

The tactility of Jesus confirmed his willingness to reach out even when the protocol of the day forbade it. As we read in Mark's Gospel for this Sunday - Ch.1:40-45:
"A leper came to Jesus and kneeling down begged him and said, "If you wish, you can make me clean." Moved with pity, Jesus stretched out his hand, touched him, and said to him, "I do will it. Be made clean."

All humanity carries the inherited contagion of sin, even those we honour as Saints. Only Mary, the Mother of Jesus, is without sin. In some people, the contagion of sin is semi-dormant, present but less active, being held in check by their religious commitment, practice and prayer. In many, many more the contagion of sin is rampant because people, having succumbed to the temptations of Satan, have lost their communion with Jesus Christ.

Mark doesn't explain how the leper chose to approach Jesus. For sure, he had heard about Jesus from somebody. We, as his Baptised disciples, are the emissaries the Lord sends. Pope Francis, a master of the metaphor, repeatedly describes the Church of today as a "field hospital". He said: "I see the church as a field hospital in a battle. It is useless to ask a seriously injured person if they have high cholesterol or about the level of their blood sugars! You have to heal their wounds." (2013)

On another occasion, the Pope said: "People, who have done evil and know it, live with a constant unease that denies them peace." He continued: "Vanity is like an osteoporosis of the soul: the bones seem good from the outside, but on the inside, they are all ruined."

Speaking about the attractive power of mercy, Pope Francis said that when people in need sense a merciful person is passing by, they will reach out. They are attracted by mercy's capacity to stop when so many walk-on by; to kneel when a certain rheumatism of the soul keeps many from bending down; to touch wounded flesh when a preference for everything to be sterile, prevails.

The Pope identified another medical contagion afflicting souls as "spiritual Alzheimer" a condition that renders some people incapable of remembering God's love and mercy for them. A clear sign of having the condition is being unable to show mercy to others.

We are the ones the Lord looks to for the 'triaging' of so many who are suffering from spiritual depletion without being aware of its deadly effect. If they accept our help, they can develop the faith and trust to approach Jesus and say, as did the leper, "If you wish, you can make me clean".

Christians are not saved by avoiding evil as much as they are by engaging in the promotion of all that Jesus lived and taught.

The active Baptised Christian is called to serve, daily, in the 'field hospital Church' engaged in the war against Evil. There, each makes full use of her or his gifts of the Holy Spirit. When we constantly employ God's gifts to us, on behalf of others, he increases his gifts to us. The inroads of Evil are checked.

A line from the Psalm for this Sunday's Mass encourages us:
"Be glad in the Lord and rejoice, you just;
exult, all you upright of heart."