Sunday, February 15, 2015

Homily for Sunday

Welcome faithful children of the Lord Jesus to the House of God where by the grace of the Heavenly Father and the power of the Holy Spirit, one finds the strength to dwell in the Presence of the Lord Jesus in the fullness of righteousness.

Today's readings from the Holy Scriptures echoed the progressive history of what was required in the days of Moses in the Presence of the Heavenly Father versus what is required today to live in the Presence of the Lord Jesus. As you will hear during my homily, while some things have dramatically changed, our loving God making it easier for us to approach Him and to dwell in His Divine Presence, not all things have changed.

During today's First Reading from the Book of Leviticus, [Lev. 13:1-2, 45-46] we heard of society's treatment towards those who suffered temporary skin disorders. Being called unclean because of their afflictions, they were isolated from the community. And also, they were expected to behave in a certain way.

It is important to point out that in this particular reading and throughout Chapter 13:1-44 of the Book of Leviticus, reference is not made to leprosy but to temporary disorders that are curable. This is based on the fact that the Hebrew word "sara'at" is used versus the Latin Vulgate Bible word that states "lepra" which means "leprosy." (The Jerome Biblical Commentary, Page 75, #28C)

Although primitive hygiene considered such diseases as highly contagious, therefore requiring isolation from the community, it was the religious and social ostracism that dictated that those who were stricken by these skin disorders lacked the necessary bodily integrity to worship Yahweh.

To ensure that those who worshipped Yahweh were clean, when someone was suspected of having a skin disorder, he was sent before the priest who would examine the person to determine the status of his condition. The priest did not do this as a physician but as a judge who interprets the Law of Moses.

The signs to be observed were the spreading of the disease, [Lev. 13:7, 22, 27, 35] sores that penetrated the skin and discoloured the surrounding hair [Lev. 13:3, 20, 25, 30] and open sores [Lev. 13:10, 15, 42] If the priest was unsure of the condition of the person, the individual was quarantine, sometimes for a week. [Lev. 13:21, 26]

Once it was determined that a person was unclean, that person was expected to move outside the community, wear torn clothes, leave their hair disarranged, cover their lip and cry out, "Unclean, unclean!" This would last as long as the person was inflicted with the skin disease.

Spiritually speaking, this reading is symbolic of how the Holy Sacraments are administered by the Church. Things have not changed! If one is not in a state of grace, not having repented of his sins, nor received the Sacrament of Reconciliation, he is not permitted to receive the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. For one to enjoy communion with the Presence of the Lord today, he is expected to be clean, in a state of grace.

Today, the Holy Catholic Church does not mistreat those who choose to live in sin by isolating them from the Body of Christ. While the Church condemns their actions, it loves and prays for the sinners as Jesus loved them and died for their salvation. This is in the hope that the sinners will be healed by the grace of God as those of the days of Moses were healed from their temporary skin disorders.
br> Today's Second Reading from the First Letter to the Corinthians [1 Cor. 10:23-11:1] is summarized by saying that charity is the first spiritual Law by which Christians must live. Charity must govern the behaviours of each and every Christian.

While all things are lawful, not all things are beneficial. It may be lawful to indulge in alcohol in one's home, but such behaviour surely does not lead to spiritual growth. It may be lawful to get married before a Justice of the Peace versus receiving the Sacrament of Marriage within the Holy Catholic Church, but such action does not have the blessing of God or the Church. It may be lawful to have a divorce or an abortion, but such actions oppose the holiness of God and His intended Divine Plan for His children.

The Christian behaviour ordains that those who shine in the light of Christ be servants of others, not offending anyone by their actions. They must not seek their own advantage, but that of the others. For example, one may be comfortable going to Church while being improperly dressed in the Presence of the Lord. But, because such a behaviour may disturb the conscience of others, Christian behaviour ordains that it not be done. The Christian behaviour ordains that because the conscience of the person who is acting this way may not be disturbed, it is no reason for saying, "It is nobody's business how I dress!" One must love and respect his neighbours in who resides the indwelling Presence of the Holy Spirit.

The Christian who embraces a spirit mind, he is always concerned with the well-being of his brothers and sisters in Christ and the building up of the Holy Catholic Church. The Christian who has a spiritual heart, he is always ready to sacrifice himself in the interest of the others and the Church.

Why does the true Christian act this way? It is because he does everything for the glory of God so that he may dwell in the Divine Presence of the Lord Jesus. The true Christian is ready to sacrifice his ways in service to the others so that they may be saved.

Contrary to this, one can decide to have his own way and behave in an unacceptable way that scandalizes others. Resulting from such behaviours, those who are scandalized may leave the Body of Christ because their consciences are bothered. In such cases, the persons who have committed the scandalous acts will be made accountable to God for their behaviours that have led to the lost of souls.

Today's Reading from the Gospel of Mark [Mk. 1:40-45] echoed three messages related to dwelling in the Presence of the Lord.

First of all, the miraculous healing of the leper echoes the Divine power and mercy of the Lord Jesus that includes everyone, even the lepers who were excluded from society under the Mosaic Law. Jesus came to save the lost sheep, not those who were already saved. He opens His arms to all, drawing them to His Sacred Heart that radiates with infinite healing love.

Secondly, we heard Jesus telling the cured leper not to say anything to anyone. Now, why would Jesus say something like that? It is because in those days, many believed in the coming of a worldly Kingdom, a secular messianism. Just like what happens today, when some hear of apparitions and miracles, thousands flood the alleged site in the hope of seeing the manifestation of the power of God. They hope and pray for something drastic to happen, for God to suddenly descend from Heaven and to bring peace in the world. Such shall not happen! The messages of Jesus and Mary, at Lourdes, at Fatima and at all the holy places have always been to pray and live one's Christian faith in righteousness in the hope of inheriting the Kingdom of God through the Blood of Christ.

The third message that is found in the Gospel is that once one is cleansed by Christ through the Sacrament of Baptism, he is expected to "freely proclaim" the Gospel and "spread the Word." This is exactly what the cured leper did! He was excited. He had found the truth, the way and the life in Jesus. He went forward and shared it with others for the glory of God the Father.

At the same time, it should be noted that the actions of the leper, contrary to Jesus' command to say nothing to anyone, made it difficult for Jesus to openly speak in the towns because the people would have tried to make Him their leader, their King. As such, Jesus had to distance Himself in the country in order to continue His work.

As St. Paul said in the Second Reading, all things are lawful but not all things are beneficial. It was spiritually right what the leper did but it was not beneficial. It was not according to the Divine Plan of God.

There is a lesson to be learned here for all of us. In our spiritual work for the glory of God, we must be of one mind. We must work together, not against each other. There is no need to compete for glory in the work of the Lord for all glory goes to the Lord Himself. If one seeks glory in his Christian work, then he is not of the Spirit of Christ!

To fully dwell in the Presence of the Lord, we must be one in mind. We must respects our neighbours. We must be committed wholeheartedly to sacrificing ourselves so that we will not offend our brothers and sisters in Christ. We must enjoy a spirit of ecumenism in the hope of drawing to the Lord Jesus those who have fallen from grace and those who have separated themselves from the Holy Catholic Church. My brothers and sisters, that is today's message from God to you! May His Words enrich your spiritual growth in Christ!

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