Sixth Sunday of the Year Homily

Posted on Feb 13, 2018



11 February 2018


On this last weekend before the beginning of Lent, a story which points us toward Lent.

Some of you many remember Bishop Fulton Sheen.  He was a precursor to many of the TV evangelists.

He had a style and a flair for the dramatic

and was probably the only Catholic church person who knew how to use TV.

Once he went to visit a leper colony in Africa.

He brought with him enough small silver crucifixes to each of the 500 lepers living in the camp.

The first leper to meet him had only a stump of his left arm.

His right arm and hand were covered with the white open sores of leprosy.

Bishop Sheen held the crucifix a few inches above the leper’s hand and let it drop into his palm.

Immediately he was struck by what he had done.

He said of that experience:  “At that moment there were 501 lepers in the camp,

and the most leprous of them all was myself.

I had taken the cross–the sign of love and redemption–and refused to identify with all it implied.

It is so easy to love humankind in general, but so difficult to love in particular.”

What is striking about the episode we hear about in today’s gospel,

is that Jesus reaches out and touches the “leper.”

While we know it was not the same kind of leprosy which Fulton Sheen encountered in Africa,

it was taboo, forbidden for any pious Jew to touch someone who was “unclean.”

What the Marcan author also wants us to know is that Jesus did not have to touch him.

You notice the words Jesus says:  “I will do it.”  Willing it could have been enough.  But it wasn’t.

All of us have been taught from early on that we are to be tolerant, helpful, kind, loving people.

And we like to think of ourselves that way.

We do not wish anyone ill, in fact we do want “good things” for the left out, lonely and down-trodden.  The truth is that kind of “generic good wishing” is not particularly Christian nor Catholic.

This Wednesday is Ash Wednesday and I have a suggestion as we look to Lent as a time for deepening and strengthening our faith.

There are in all of our lives, people who have hurt us deeply, stabbed us in the back at work, stolen our girl or boyfriends, made our lives difficult.

Maybe this Lent is finally the time when we claim the name “Christian” and do the

“impossible” we touch those people in some real and genuine way.