Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time – B

 

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“A leper came to Jesus and kneeling down begged him and said,
 “If you wish, you can make me clean.  “
Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand, 
touched him, and said to him, 
”I do will it.  Be made clean.”

OPENING PRAYER

Daily Offering to the Immaculate Heart of Mary

O Jesus, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I offer you my prayers, works, joys, and suffering of this day in union with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass throughout the world. I offer them for all the intentions of Your Sacred Heart: the salvation of souls, reparation for sins, the reunion of all Christians; I offer them for the intentions of our Bishops and of all Apostles of Prayer and in particular for those recommended by our Holy Father this month.  Amen.

COLLECT

 O God, who teach us that you abide

in hearts that are just and true,

grant that we may be so fashioned by your grace

as to become a dwelling pleasing to you.

Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,

who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.

READING I

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Lv 13:1-2, 44-46

The Lord said to Moses and Aaron,
”If someone has on his skin a scab or pustule or blotch
 which appears to be the sore of leprosy, 
he shall be brought to Aaron, the priest,
 or to one of the priests among his descendants.
 If the man is leprous and unclean,
 the priest shall declare him unclean
by reason of the sore on his head.

  “The one who bears the sore of leprosy
 shall keep his garments rent and his head bare, 
and shall muffle his beard;
 he shall cry out, ‘Unclean, unclean! ‘
As long as the sore is on him he shall declare himself unclean,
 since he is in fact unclean.
  He shall dwell apart, making his abode outside the camp.”

APPLICATION

 Man was made to live in the society of his fellowman. His nature needs the comfort and the sustaining support of his family and neighbors. To be isolated from them, to be compelled to live a life apart must be the hardest lot that could befall a human being. This was the sad lot of lepers in the Old Testament times and well into New Testament days as well. Thanks to the progress of medicine and of Christian charity there are hardly any cases of complete isolation today. There are cures for all infectious and contagious diseases including most forms of leprosy, today. There are medical means of protection against infection and contagion which means that no patients need to be in strict isolation. They can be visited and consoled by their relatives, friends and charitable neighbors, and their cross of suffering in loneliness is lightened for them.

There are, however, other cases of isolation not caused by any disease but rather resulting from lack of thought or lack of true fraternal charity on the part of fellowman. There are elderly people in hospitals and in homes for the aged whose relatives are all dead and who have no one to visit them or to cheer them and help them to carry their cross. Here is an occasion for the true Christian to put his religion into practice. “I was sick and you visited me,” Christ says to the just on the last day. Yes, if we visit and console a fellowman, a brother of Christ, we are visiting and consoling Christ. There are, thank God, a few who practice this very necessary form of charity, but many more are needed.

There are also individuals and sometimes families in almost every community, who seem to be isolated or left coldly to themselves. It may be partly their own fault – they show no inclination to mix with their neighbors, they may even resent any intrusion on their privacy – but this does not excuse the truly Christian neighbor from trying to make such individuals or families feel at home and welcome in their neighborhood. The charitable person will find ways and means of integrating such people into their local community, and of making life less solitary and therefore, more bearable for them.

Think again on the sad fate of the lepers of old, cut off from all human fellowship, compelled to warn all to keep at a safe distance, lest they become infected. If you had been there, would you not have tried to help those poor unfortunate people, if only with a word of encouragement and consolation from afar? You were not there, but you have today plenty of opportunities to exercise charity toward lonely or isolated neighbors, who are within the reach of your kindness, if you are truly kind. You need not fear any contamination of body or mind, in fact, the kindly, friendly encounter with such people who are so much in need of friendship and kindness will have an elevating effect on your own life and cannot but bring you closer to God. “I was a stranger and you made me welcome; I was sick and I you visited me; I tell you solemnly insofar as you did this to the least of these brothers of mine, you did it to me” (Mt. 25: 35-40).

RESPONSORIAL PSALM

Ps 32:1-2, 5, 11

I turn to you, Lord, in time of trouble, and you fill me with the joy of salvation.

Blessed is he whose fault is taken away,
whose sin is covered.
Blessed the man to whom the LORD imputes not guilt,
in whose spirit there is no guile.

I turn to you, Lord, in time of trouble, and you fill me with the joy of salvation.

Then I acknowledged my sin to you, 
my guilt I covered not.
I said, “I confess my faults to the LORD, “
and you took away the guilt of my sin.

I turn to you, Lord, in time of trouble, and you fill me with the joy of salvation.

Be glad in the LORD and rejoice, you just;
exult, all you upright of heart.

I turn to you, Lord, in time of trouble, and you fill me with the joy of salvation.

 READING II

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1 Cor 10:31-11:1

Brothers and sisters, 
Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do,
do everything for the glory of God.  
Avoid giving offense, whether to the Jews or Greeks or 
the church of God,
 just as I try to please everyone in every way,
 not seeking my own benefit but that of the many,
 that they may be saved.
  Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.

 CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

 CCC 24 By design, this Catechism does not set out to provide the adaptation of doctrinal presentations and catechetical methods required by the differences of culture, age, spiritual maturity, and social and ecclesial condition among all those to whom it is addressed. Such indispensable adaptations are the responsibility of particular catechisms and, even more, of those who instruct the faithful:

Whoever teaches must become “all things to all men” (1 Cor 9:22), to win everyone to Christ. .. Above all, teachers must not imagine that a single kind of soul has been entrusted to them, and that consequently it is lawful to teach and form equally all the faithful in true piety with one and the same method! Let them realize that some are in Christ as newborn babes, others as adolescents, and still others as adults in full command of their powers. .. Those who are called to the ministry of preaching must suit their words to the maturity and understanding of their hearers, as they hand on the teaching of the mysteries of faith and the rules of moral conduct.1

 CCC 848 “Although in ways known to himself God can lead those who, through no fault of their own, are ignorant of the Gospel, to that faith without which it is impossible to please him, the Church still has the obligation and also the sacred right to evangelize all men.”2

CCC 876 Intrinsically linked to the sacramental nature of ecclesial ministry is its character as service. Entirely dependent on Christ who gives mission and authority, ministers are truly “slaves of Christ,”3 in the image of him who freely took “the form of a slave” for us.4 Because the word and grace of which they are ministers are not their own, but are given to them by Christ for the sake of others, they must freely become the slaves of all.5

 1 Roman Catechism, Preface II; cf. I Cor 9:22; I Pt 2:2.

2 AG 7; cf. Heb 11:6; 1 Cor 9:16.

3 Cf. Rom 1:1.

4 Phil 2:7.

5 Cf. 1 Cor 9:19.

APPLICATION

If  I were to ask each one of you: “what did you do for God’s honor and glory since last Sunday?” would you have to stop and think and maybe answer: “I did nothing except a few hurried prayers said at night. “Those who would answer thus have not a proper understanding of what living the Christian life means. From the moment of his baptism a Christian’s life is a life dedicated to God’s glory and leading to his own eternal reward on his last day. Every act of a Christian’s day, his recreation as well as his work, his joys as well as his sorrows, his sleeping as well as his waking hour, gives honor and glory to God, and earns heaven for the Christian. This is the real meaning of living a Christian life. This is what St. Paul tells us today when he says : “Whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” This is how St. Paul himself lived and acted and became a great saint. Undoubtedly, he gave most of his time to teaching the gospel to others, but he also worked with his hands, ate some meals, slept some hours at least each night, had moments of recreation or relaxation with friends, but he offered it all to God and it all added to God’s gory and to his own sanctification. God lived more and more in him and with him each day that dawned. There are millions of saints in heaven who did nothing extraordinary in their whole lives but they lived their ordinary lives honestly and well. It should not be too hard for the weakest of us to do this. It will help us to do our daily tasks more faithfully if each morning we offer our day to the honor and glory of God. This morning offering can be made while dressing, or while on our way to work and if sometimes we forget it, God will understand.

So the true answer to what did you do for God’s honor and glory since last Sunday is: I have given him seven days’ service; I have honored him in all my doings’ This will be true for every Christian who has been honest in all his doings and who has lived within the laws of God, of his Church, and of his country. We cannot honor God with a dishonest act, we can give no glory to God while willfully disobeying in serious matters the commandments of God or of his Church, or the lawful enactment’s of the State. But our merciful God knows how weak our human nature can be at times, and has given us an easy means of rising again should we fall into disobedience. The sincere Christian who realizes that our daily tasks, if they are carried out while we are not in God’s friendship, are not capable of honoring God or earning our own eternal salvation, will rise quickly from sin and return to God’s friendship. To sin is partly human frailty and partly human folly; to remain deliberately in sin is criminal injustice to God and to ourselves, because all those days, weeks, and months perhaps, are squandered and wasted as far as God and our eternal destiny are concerned.

Let us try, from now on, to imitate St. Paul by devoting twenty-four hours each day to the honor and glory of God. We do not have to say any extra prayers; we do not have to do any unusual mortification’s but if we do each task of each day faithfully and truly, we shall be honoring God daily and storing up a priceless reward for ourselves in heaven.

GOSPEL

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Mk 1:40-45

 

A leper came to Jesus and kneeling down begged him and said,
”If you wish, you can make me clean.  “
Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand, 
touched him, and said to him, 
”I do will it. Be made clean.  “
The leprosy left him immediately, and he was made clean.
  Then, warning the him sternly, he dismissed him at once. 

He said to him, “See that you tell no one anything,
 but go, show yourself to the priest 
and offer for your cleansing what Moses prescribed;
that will be proof for them.  “

The man went away and began to publicize the whole matter.
  He spread the report abroad
so that it was impossible for Jesus to enter a town openly.  
He remained outside in deserted places,
and people kept coming to him from everywhere.

 http://usccb.org/bible/readings/021118.cfm

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

 CCC 2602 Jesus often draws apart to pray in solitude, on a mountain, preferably at night.1 He includes all men in his prayer, for he has taken on humanity in his incarnation, and he offers them to the Father when he offers himself. Jesus, the Word who has become flesh, shares by his human prayer in all that “his brethren” experience; he sympathizes with their weaknesses in order to free them.2 It was for this that the Father sent him. His words and works are the visible manifestation of his prayer in secret.

1 Cf. Mk 1:35; 6:46; Lk 5:16.
2 Cf. Heb 2:12, 15; 4:15.

 APPLICATION

We see both the divine power and the divine compassion of Jesus in this act of healing. The divine power was necessary in all instantaneous cures. Even if the diseases were curable, the ordinary process of nature took time to fight off the causes and to return to normality. Therefore, where there was an instantaneous recovery some power above nature, some supernatural cause brought it about. But where the disease was incurable, as real leprosy then was, to remove it by a simple word of command was more emphatically still the result of divine power. This divine power Jesus had, for he was himself divine, the Son of God.

His compassion for suffering humanity was, however, co-terminus with his power, it was also divine. It was out of compassion for the sad lot of the human race on earth that he descended to man’s level, becoming man, equal to us in all things except sin, in order to suffer with us and for us. By his human sufferings he made an atonement, a satisfaction for all the sins of the world – a satisfaction which all mankind could never make — to his heavenly Father, and so obtained for us God’s pardon. At the same time, by joining our human nature to his divine nature, he brought us into the divine orbit and made us adopted sons of God and heirs of the eternal life of the Blessed Trinity. Because this seems almost too good to be true, there are men who deny it or refuse to accept it. Such men make the mistake of measuring the infinite compassion of God with the limited yard-stick of their own finite and puny compassion.

Thanks be to God, for his infinite compassion! Thanks be to God, for Christ his Son, who came and dwelt amongst us! He put heaven and a share in the life of God within our reach; he has, shown us how to attain them, giving in his Church and the sacraments, all the necessary aids. But we still need all of Christ’s compassion if we are to get there. Because of our inclination to sin and because of the many times we unfortunately give in to that inclination, nothing but the mercy of God can save us from our own folly. However, that mercy is available, if only we ask for it. What we sinners need is the faith and confidence of the leper in today’s gospel reading. He believed firmly in the power and the mercy of Jesus. “If you will, you can make me clean,” was his approach to Jesus.

This should be our approach too, if we have the misfortune to fall into serious sin. Jesus does will and does want our salvation. His incarnation, and death on the cross, proves that. The fact that he left the power to forgive sins to his Church is another proof of both his will and desire to help us. “All power has been given to me in heaven and on earth,” he stated. Part of that power which he left to his Church is in the sacrament of penance where the leprosy of sin can be washed away and the sinner restored to new and perfect spiritual health. What folly for any Christian then, to commit sin and isolate himself, like the unclean leper, from God. But it is greater folly still, to remain in this unclean state when the cure for his disease is so easily available to any sincere penitent.

Applications written by Fr. Kevin O’Sullivan O.F.M. and used with permission from Franciscan Press.

 BENEDICTUS

 The Attempt to Save Ourselves

 It is clear that human beings alone cannot save themselves.  There innate error is precisely that they want to do this by themselves.  We can only be saved – that is, become ourselves – when we engage in the proper relationship.  But our interpersonal relationships occur in the context of our utter creatureliness, and it is there that the damage lies.  Since the relationship with creation has been damaged, only the Creator himself can be our savior.  We can be saved only when he from whom we have cut ourselves off takes the initiative with us and stretches out his hand to us.  Only being loved is being saved, and only God’s love can purify damaged human love and radically reestablish the network of relationships that have suffered from alienation… The One who is truly like God does not hold graspingly to his autonomy, to the limitlessness of his ability and his willing.  He does the contrary:  he becomes completely dependent, he becomes a slave.  Because he does not go the route of power but that of love, he can descend into the depths of Adam’s lie, into the depths of death, and there raise up truth and life.  Thus Christ is the new Adam, with whom humankind begins anew.  The Son., who is by nature relationship and relatedness, reestablishes relationships.  His arms, spread out on the cross, are an open invitation to relationship, which is continually offered to us.  The cross, the place of his obedience, is the true tree of life.

 Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

 CLOSING PRAYER

 The Universal Prayer

(attributed to Pope Clement XI)

 

Lord, I believe in you: increase my faith.

I trust in you: strengthen my trust.

I love you: let me love you more and more.

I am sorry for my sins: deepen my sorrow.

I worship you as my first beginning,

I long for you as my last end,

I praise you as my constant helper,

And call on you as my loving protector.

 

Guide me by your wisdom,

Correct me with your justice,

Comfort me with your mercy,

Protect me with your power.

 

I offer you, Lord, my thoughts: to be fixed on you;

My words: to have you for their theme;

My actions: to reflect my love for you;

My sufferings: to be endured for your greater glory.

 

I want to do what you ask of me:

In the way you ask,

For as long as you ask,

Because you ask it.

 

Lord, enlighten my understanding,

Strengthen my will,

Purify my heart,

and make me holy.

 

Help me to repent of my past sins

And to resist temptation in the future.

Help me to rise above my human weaknesses

And to grow stronger as a Christian.

 

Let me love you, my Lord and my God,

And see myself as I really am:

A pilgrim in this world,

A Christian called to respect and love

All whose lives I touch,

Those under my authority,

My friends and my enemies.

 

Help me to conquer anger with gentleness,

Greed by generosity,

Apathy by fervor.

Help me to forget myself

And reach out toward others.

 

Make me prudent in planning,

Courageous in taking risks.

Make me patient in suffering,

unassuming in prosperity.

 

Keep me, Lord, attentive at prayer,

Temperate in food and drink,

Diligent in my work,

Firm in my good intentions.

 

Let my conscience be clear,

My conduct without fault,

My speech blameless,

My life well-ordered.

Put me on guard against my human weaknesses.

Let me cherish your love for me,

Keep your law,

And come at last to your salvation.

Teach me to realize that this world is passing,

That my true future is the happiness of heaven,

That life on earth is short,

And the life to come eternal.

Help me to prepare for death

With a proper fear of judgment,

But a greater trust in your goodness.

Lead me safely through death

To the endless joy of heaven.

 

Grant this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

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About Benedicamus Domino

Let Us Bless The Lord - A weekly study of the Catholic Church's Sunday Sacred Liturgy. I hope that families and friends will benefit from this as a prayerful way to prepare and actively participate in the holy sacrifice of the Mass.
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