Scripture Reflections

What Is the Rudder in Your Life?

 Connect! Sunday Reflection

 

For Sunday, February 11, 2018
Sixth Sunday of Ordinary Time

Leviticus 13:1-2, 44-46
1 Corinthians 10:31—11:1
Mark 1:40-45

“If you wish, you can make me clean … I do will it. Be made clean.”

 

This dialogue can easily be on each of our lips as we begin the season of Lent this week. This season is a wonderful opportunity to take an assessment of where we are on our journey of faith. Lent is a time of discovery, renewal, conversion, and repentance. To be fully engaged in this intimate walk with God, we must be prepared to be vulnerable, humble, and brutally honest. Not only does God want to make us whole, but we desperately desire, in the depths of our being, to have our often fragmented and disjointed lives gathered and healed.

Lent is a time of healing and wholeness. St. Teresa of Calcutta said, “Everybody today seems to be in such a terrible rush, anxious for greater development and greater riches. Children have very little time for their parents and parents have very little time for their children and for each other. So the breakdown of peace in the world begins at home.” We are always in such a hurry and busy about many things. Daily life pulls at us and drives us in so many directions that many are often tired and without much energy or ambition left. How often are the words “there is no time!” on our lips?

A ship without a rudder would simply sail recklessly and haplessly without direction or purpose. What is the rudder in your life? Ultimately, the answer to that question is God, but we allow so many other things to pull us, direct us, and determine the course of our lives. Lent reminds us that this is not what God intends. This journey requires that we be vulnerable enough to take risks and courageously change the way we order and conduct the business of our lives. This may mean that we stand apart and journey down a less traveled road than our peers. We must rid ourselves of rigidity and take down our walls so that we allow Jesus to touch us in the deepest recesses of our soul, that sacred place where I am alone with God. We are asked to stop and make time for God, for people, for ourselves, and for creation.

The journey also requires that we be humble and admit that we need God’s help in putting our spiritual and personal houses in order. This is not a sign of weakness but of strength as we begin to realize that life is not about our own cares and concerns but is about God. We must humbly admit that following our own impulses and desires most assuredly will lead to a dead end and that being exhausted emotionally, physically, and spiritually is not conducive to experiencing a joy-filled life. A humble submission to God’s will and life is not something that comes easily to many. It requires practice and discipline.

Finally, the journey requires us to be brutally honest with ourselves. When we look in the mirror, who do we REALLY see? If we are truly honest, we will see all of the false securities upon which we rely, the deceptions that all too often are found in our daily decisions, the addictions we cling to that anesthetize our feelings of loneliness, fear, or inadequacies, the sins we commit because of willful errors of judgment, and our persistent need to put other kingdoms before the Kingdom of God.

As believers, everything we do must be done for the glory of God. We forget that and need this holy time to remind us. We can choose to continue our journeys as they are or take a leap through the narrow door and do some serious personal and spiritual housecleaning. If we choose this, then on the other side we will discover a deeper relationship with God, others, and our own selves. We will also be able to go to bed each night, wake each morning, and embrace every day with the joy God’s salvation brings.

 

PRAYER

Loving God, have mercy on me a sinner.
I want you to make me clean.
Help me, by the grace of the Holy Spirit,
to allow you to touch my heart
and heal me of anything that keeps me from you.
When I am wandering, bring me home.
When I fail to love, show me your mercy.
When I doubt, help me trust.
Give me the courage to see myself for who I really am
and humbly admit my brokenness and sinfulness.
Help me understand that life is meant to be lived in,
with and through you and that all of creation
and every one of your children radiates your presence and love.
May I have a joyful heart and spirit
and experience the abundance of life you offer
through Christ our Lord. Amen.

 

GOSPEL MEDITATION


February 11, 2018

6th Sunday in Ordinary Time


We may not like it, but generosity and risk often go hand-in-hand. At least, that's what Jesus shows us in today's Gospel as a leper approaches him for healing. Until the nineteenth century, lepers were shunned to the margins of society for fear of spreading the disease. To touch a leper was to risk becoming unclean yourself. In today's Gospel, Jesus defies convention. "Moved with pity, he reached out his hand, [and] touched him." The leper is healed! But this is not the only risk Jesus takes. 


Before Jesus heals the man, he knows full well the desperate nature of his situation. Jesus knows that this man will be overjoyed upon being healed and that he just might tell everyone he knows. For a Messiah looking to temporarily fly under the radar, healing this particular leper might not be the best idea. Jesus heals anyway. 


It can be easy to become calculated in our giving. If I go out of my way to help this person, how will it affect my reputation? How will this charitable donation affect my budget? How could I possibly make time to volunteer regularly? In today's Gospel, Jesus casts these concerns aside. He touches the untouchable. He reaches the unreachable. For his efforts, he receives a betrayal of his request for silence. "The man went away and began to publicize the whole matter." Before long "it was impossible for Jesus to enter a town openly." Jesus is forced to remain "outside in the deserted places." It would appear, perhaps, that he is unable to accomplish his mission. 


When we take a risk to be generous, things might not follow the prescribed path. We might be disappointed. We also might be surprised! Our witness to radical generosity is attractive to a world in desperate need. Indeed, when Jesus took risks for love, "People kept coming to him from everywhere."



LIVE THE LITURGY - INSPIRATION FOR THE WEEK


We never marginalize or turn our backs on those who suffer violence, oppression from unjust systems, poverty, illness, or disease. Jesus never turned anyone away, but always extended a hand of healing and compassion. He would insist on extending God's merciful and unconditional love to all, even if it meant breaking the Sabbath or civil law. Does the way we treat others, especially those who are different than us, reflect the freedom, joy, love, and good news of the Gospel?



QUESTIONS OF THE WEEK


First Reading
Ancient Israelites quarantined those suffering from leprosy out of fear the disease would spread to others. In what ways does our society make rules out of fear of the other? 

Second Reading 
Paul places a high premium on being Christ-like to others, inviting the Corinthian Christians to imitate him in this regard. What in Paul's life do you think modern believers should imitate? 

Gospel Reading
What was the unintended consequence experienced by Jesus as a result of healing the leper? Did this surprise you?