Homily – 2012 Year B – 6th Sunday Ordinary Time

This morning was quite emotional as I added to the end of this homily the experiances on the Soup Run last night. It's the first time I have seen people cry at the homily.

Audio now added, the whole thing is about 10 mins long, the last 2 minutes are not typed up below but added spur of the moment. The image of a lepar being beaten of with a strick just resonated so much with the man I met on the soup run the previous night I had to add it.
God Bless, J

Sunday 12 Feb 2012 - Homily on 6th Sunday Ordinary Time Year B

Readings
Leviticus 13:1-2, 44-46
Psalm 31: 1-2, 5, 11
1 Corinthians 10:31-11:1
Mark 1:40-45

Leviticus is a fascinating book, it can also be tedious and dull. Today we get to hear a little of both. If you followed today's reading in the missal or looked in detail at the bulletin you will find that there are 42 verses skipped in our old testament reading. These verses go into considerable detail on identifying skin diseases, burns, spots and even baldness. The next few verses go on to describe in similar detail how to identify mould and rot in clothing and fabric. It's a great insight for us to the way the Jewish people looked after themselves.

Contagious diseases could have a horrible effect on a people living closely together. They didn't have our level of medical care and quarantine was there only way of controlling the situation.

Closely woven into the thinking of the people of 2-6 thousand years ago was the connection between illness and sin. It wasn't directly stated that if you were ill you were being punished by God for your sins, in fact the story of Job tell us that they are not connected, but people often thought they were.

When you add the loneliness of quarantine to the spiritual loneliness of being punished by God you can imagine how bad it was for someone developing leprosy and being sent to live apart from their friends and family. Also add to that the pain and debilitating effect of leprosy and you have a situation that no person should ever have to endure.

It is a man in this situation we meet at the start of the gospel reading. He however is not keeping his distance and is not covering his mouth and shouting “Unclean! Unclean!” The normal reaction would be for the person he approached to beat him away with a stick. The leap of faith he is taking is extreme, you can only imagine the level of news and rumour that had reached him about Jesus, that inspired him to such faith.

Next we see an exchange of faith and love that almost brings tears to my eyes. The man steps forward, kneels and says “If you want to you can heal me.” Jesus touches him saying “Of course I want to!” At which point he is healed.

Can you imagine being there and seeing that exchange. If it happened today how long before the world knew about it via twitter. The Six O’Clock news would be showing mobile phone videos of the leprosy melting away. A million people would know within the hour, a billion within the day.

How did Jesus expect the message not to spread. Yet he hoped it wouldn't, he didn't come to become famous, He came to spend time with us, He came to teach us, He came ultimately to save us. The fame in many ways got in his way, towns and villages became so choked with people he couldn't even enter them. He was forced into countryside where people had to come to him.

Today's picture of Christ shows us a gentle man. A caring and loving man. Someone who has time for everyone, who loves everyone. Who loves the leper and outcast just as much as everyone else. Paul takes this picture of Christ as his model. Paul sees Christ as a man who puts others first, who spent his life putting peoples needs before his needs. Paul is convinced this is the way to live and he is teaching by example.

Paul was writing to the Church in Corinth but his letter to that church is as relevant to us today as it was to the Christians 2000 years ago in Corinth. It is easy for us to get upset with other people because of the way they think or act. When we get upset we can get sharp with them, or ignore them. Either way how can we spread the gospel if we push people away from us.

During his early ministry Christ wanted to get close to people, families and communities. He wanted to teach them not only by preaching but by example. The fame surrounding him hampered this and he asked people not to tell of the miracles he performed. That changed on the cross, his mission accomplished, he needed everyone in every time, to know Him, to understand Him and to learn of His message. That's why Christ sent Paul, and that's why Paul sent the Corinthians, and that's why you are sent today.

I have never met anyone with leprosy, but I meet lonely people and sick people all the time. Some I can give practical help to like the homeless we meet on the soup run. Some people I spend time with just listening to them. Some people just simply become friends. I seldom lead with direct Christian teaching, although sometimes when I think it's appropriate I do. Mostly I try and be helpful, I try to care, I try to give them some time. I know I don't always get it right, I can get angry and frustrated with people and I can drive them away. Sometime I am to wrapped up in myself and I don't even notice them or their needs.

I wish I was like Paul, with the faith to say follow my example. I am not, but I do try to follow Paul's example and Christ's example. And that is my challenge to you this week, try to use Paul and Christ as your model. Try not to be offensive to anyone, try to be helpful to everyone. Try put put others, not yourself, first. If they see Christ in you, they can meet him personally, and once they open up to Christ and ask if he wants to help them, you know he is going to step forward with open arms saying “Of course I want to!”

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