for Sunday, February 12, 2012
Anyone who has read the life of Saint Damien of Molokai will have a
deepened understanding of the awful situation of the leper in society.
Even today, where there is medicine to treat the disease, in many countries
it is still a cause for social banishment. Mother Marianne Cope, who also
worked with the lepers in Molokai will be canonized this year.
Because some illnesses in the past were totally misunderstood, there was
need to try to find ways to stop them from spreading. This is the intent
of the first reading today. It goes hand in hand with today's Gospel.
The challenge in most countries today is not physical leprosy as we find
it in the Scriptures, but all kinds of moral leprosy. Today so much of our
culture does not even understand that it is sick. The lack of moral values
is so widespread that it now seems normal. Having any moral values is what
now seems abnormal.
Yet even in our own time, some people recognize eventually that their ways
of living have harmed them and then they can begin to recover from this
lack of morality, this lack of any value system other than pleasure, power
Today second reading, from the First Letter to the Corinthians, tells us:
whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God. This is a clear and
straightforward antidote to the moral sickness of our time.
If we look at the physical illnesses of our own time, there are very few
which cause us the fear and uneasiness that leprosy would have caused in
the Jewish Scriptures or in the Christian Scriptures. The AIDS Virus is
one of the diseases that does cause fear and distress, but mostly in poor
countries. In the United States there is now enough treatment for this
virus that no one seems to fear it any more - or least the fear is not very
large. In many poor countries, however, the HIV virus has effects very
similar that of leprosy in the Old and the New Testaments.
One middle-aged man related going to visit his home village after more
than 10 years of absence. He found that everyone his own age had died.
Most of the people between 20 and 60 had died. The really old were now
caring for their grandchildren or great grandchildren because everyone else
was dead. It was an enormous shock to this man.
You are I are called by today's Scripture readings to love all other
people, even the lepers and the outcasts. By the way that we live, we must
invite others also to begin to love and serve the outcasts. It is not a
matter of preaching moral values or of condemning those whose actions have
messed up their own lives and often the lives of others. It is a matter of
loving such people and serving them - and a matter of us living the values of
May this day bring each of us closer to our Lord in love and in action.
May we never fear serving others, no matter how awful the other person may
seem or no matter the lack of moral values in the other person. Jesus
simply tells us: love your enemy!
Readings of the day:
First Reading: Leviticus 13.1-2, 45-46
Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 10.31–11.1
Gospel: Mark 1.40-45
Reflections are available for the following Sundays: