• Rev. Lawrence E. Polansky

6th Sunday in Ordinary Time

“The leprosy left him, and he was made clean.”

Entrance Antiphon: Ps 31(30):3-4 — “Be my protector, O God, a mighty stronghold to save me. For You are my rock, my stronghold! Lead me, guide me, for the sake of Your name.”

First Reading: Lv 13:1-2, 44-46 — “The leper will dwell apart, making an abode outside the camp.”

Responsorial Psalm: Ps 32:1-2, 5, 11 — “I turn to You, Lord, in time of trouble, and You fill me with the joy of salvation.”

Second Reading: 1 Cor 10:31 –11:1 — “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.”

Alleluia: Lk 7:16 — Alleluia, alleluia. “A great prophet has arisen in our midst, God has visited His people.” Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel: Mk 1:40-45 — “The leprosy left him, and he was made clean.”

Communion Antiphon: Ps 78(77):29-30 — “They ate and had their fill, and what they craved the Lord gave them; they were not disappointed in what they craved.”

The readings for this Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time ... Valentine’s Day ... the Sunday before Presidents’ Day and the last Sunday before the beginning of Lent ... highlight our need for Jesus as the Divine Physician. The Old Testament reading from Leviticus lays out the law for those who have contracted leprosy: such persons would be declared unclean, turned out from society, and made to live apart from others in efforts not to spread the disease. If a person were to touch a leper, they would then be declared unclean as well, facing the same restrictions.

Jesus, “moved with pity…stretched out His hand, touched him, and said to him, ‘I do will it. Be made clean.’” The act of Jesus actually touching a leper would have shocked those around him. Love reaches out and touches others. Jesus touches this man, regardless of the risk of being ostracized Himself. True love does not count the cost. Jesus gives all for all, unreservedly because as we know ... His love knows no limits.

February 14, 2021 is also World Marriage Day and every marriage is meant to be a little icon of the love of Christ and His bride, the Church. The love shared between a man and a woman in holy Matrimony points us to the self-emptying, self-sacrificing love God has for each one of us.

The promises that married couples make to each other illustrate what this love looks like lived out in the day-to-day experience: to have and to hold, exclusively, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love, to cherish, to honor until death. In the Trinity, Father, Son, and Spirit give everything to one another in relationship. As a reflection of that, a person gives everything to his or her spouse in marriage.

The continuation of living life amid a global pandemic may have some married couples reflecting that this has been a season of “for worse,” “for poorer,” and “in sickness.” There are many married couples who are suffering right now: marital strain, illness, unemployment, etc. And you know what? Christ sees your struggle. He loves you through your struggle. He promised us that we would suffer in being His followers, but He also promised us that He would be with us always, “until the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20).

The Sacrament of Marriage provides the grace necessary to weather the storms of marriage and family life. We can draw upon those graces of marriage to assist us. Just as the leper cried out to Jesus and begged Him for His healing touch, so too, must we be unafraid to reach out to God and ask Him for the grace to help us in living out our vocations.

Likewise, we are called to bring the healing touch of Christ to others. As members of the Body of Christ we are His hands and feet. How can you support those around you? Is God calling you and your spouse to reach out to a younger married couple in friendship? Is a new mom that you know feeling overwhelmed? Is a family who is unable to go out because they are caretakers of an elderly family member feeling isolated? How can you reach out to them? How can you bring the healing touch of Christ into the lives of others?

Marriage and family concerns everyone: Each of us comes from a family. Each of us is a son or a daughter. In God’s plan every child is meant to be the fruit of his or her mother’s and father’s love for each other in the sacred bond of marriage. Therefore, conversations about marriage and the family in the public square concern all of us, and therefore the Church’s teaching on marriage and family and life at every stage is important for all of us.

Sadly, many of us have experienced or know family or friends who have experienced the pain of a broken marriage and family. Each experience is unique, and the Lord’s mercy is great. Regardless of our individual circumstances, we all have a role to play in God’s vision of the family. Ultimately, through baptism, all of us are part of the perfect family – God’s family – as beloved sons and daughters of God the Father.

On this World Marriage Day, we thank our heavenly Father for the gift and blessing of marriage and the family. As we strive to live our particular vocations and respond to the Lord’s grace in our lives, let’s also consider how we might dedicate renewed prayer and attention to marriage and the family.

As a start, here are possible areas we might consider: First, we begin with prayer: Let’s remember to pray with and for marriages and families throughout our nation ... for marriages in crisis ... for families struggling with unemployment ... for broken or wounded family relationships.

Second, let’s reclaim Sunday as the Lord’s Day, a day of rest when we can focus on being together as a family. The celebration of Holy Mass together is the first essential way to honor this day. But is there something more the Lord is inviting us to do when we go back home? Set aside some time to pray a decade of the rosary, enjoy the outdoors together, play ball, eat dinner together as a family, or perhaps have a game night!

And third, let’s remember that the Church is the family of God and a family of families. As a family, how can we share Christ with other married couples and families? Do we have any friends and family members who are struggling in their marriage, who are alone during this time of isolation, or who are particularly afflicted by this pandemic? When was the last time we checked on our elderly neighbors? Is there someone in the parish that we haven’t seen in a while? How can we – as a family – reach out to those who are in need?

God created us because he wants to be in relationship with us. He does not have to love us. God wants to. The reason we exist is relationship. We were made for love. This is a kind of Good News that is not possible without the Divine, for no other love for us is so pure ... so unconditional ... so freely given. And one of the greatest examples we have of that is the crucifix behind me ... “For God so loved the world that He gave us His Only Begotten Son ... who died to save us from our sins.” We also have the gift of Jesus Himself ... the Eucharist ... which we will receive from this altar in just a short while. "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your mind, with all your heart, and with all your strength, and you shall love your neighbor as yourself."

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