Homily – February 11, 2018

Today’s short gospel tells the story of the cure of the man afflicted with the dread disease of leprosy. The exchange between the leper and Jesus is very simple; if you want to, you can make me clean.. And Jesus responds, ‘of course I want to, be clean, and Jesus touched him and he was made clean. To touch a leper made the toucher ‘unclean’. Jesus made himself one with the man he cleansed.

Our first readings tells us how men and women where to be treated. They were to live away from any human contact lest they infect the whole community. In touching this leper Jesus restored him to his family and his community. Jesus told the cured man to keep this to himself but of course that was a waste of time, he couldn’t keep himself from telling family and friends the wonderful news that he was cured, he was free to come home to family and friends.

This Sunday is the World Day of the Sick. Every Sunday in our prayer of the faithful we pray for the sick and those who care for them. We pray for the sick, all those who are ill in any way; people suffering from lingering illness, and those who are going or have gone through surgery. We pray for those who suffer in mind of body. We pray for those who care for them, their doctors and the nurses and nurse’s aide in our hospitals.

Those who care for them; so often these good people are the forgotten ones, the daughters and sons caring for parents still living at home. Family members who want to keep the family together as long as possible, patiently working with forgetful and frustrated mothers of fathers. Parents who still resent having their car keys taken away, frustrated at needing help. We pray for the many wonderful live-in caregivers who are so faithful and loving to those in their care.

Years ago on my Friday rounds at North General Hospital the chaplain’s secretary told me that before I saw anyone else I was to go to the 8th floor to Mr. Bernstein’s room. He’s Jewish and he’s dying. But his care-giver is Philippino and Catholic and she needs help. I found out she had been his care giver for over ten years and they were close friends and she was grieving his dying. I spent some time with her but the truth of the matter was that after he died she’d have to start looking for a new job. That’s the reality of many of these wonderful women.

We are all sick, wounded in one way or another. We struggle with our weaknesses, our unwillingness to forgive and forget the bigotry and prejudices of our narrowmindedness, our coping with personal issues, whatever they may be. In our own way we say, ‘if you want to you can make me clean’.

It is good to remember that this Mass makes Calvary present – this is my body, this is my blood given for you. It is good to remember that it is by his wounds we are healed, we are made whole. That healing will come to us in Christ’s time and Christ’s ways.