February 7, 2021 – Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time
“Do Not Fail Him!”
On leaving the synagogue Jesus entered the house of Simon and Andrew with James and John. Simon’s mother-in-law lay sick with a fever. They immediately told him about her. He approached, grasped her hand, and helped her up. Then the fever left her and she waited on them. When it was evening, after sunset, they brought to him all who were ill or possessed by demons. The whole town was gathered at the door. He cured many who were sick with various diseases, and he drove out many demons, not permitting them to speak because they knew him. Rising very early before dawn, he left and went off to a deserted place, where he prayed. Simon and those who were with him pursued him and on finding him said, “Everyone is looking for you.” He told them, “Let us go on to the nearby villages that I may preach there also. For this purpose have I come.” So he went into their synagogues, preaching and driving out demons throughout the whole of Galilee.
Introductory Prayer: Lord, I believe that you are the Son of God, who became man so that you could deliver us from sin and open the gates of heaven for us. I hope in you because you are mercy itself and because you seek my true good in every instant. I love you and long for my love to grow since you deserve to be absolutely first in my life. Thank you for these moments of intimacy with you now.
Petition: Lord, grant me the grace to embrace my mission as a Christian.
- “Rising very early before dawn… he prayed.” Jesus had been completely occupied all day in healing anyone in the town with ailments and demons, yet he has the energy, conviction and determination to rise early to pray. True prayer, true dialogue with God is necessary for a disciple of Christ. Without it, we will have nothing to give to others. Prayer needs to be a priority in our life if we wish to be faithful followers of Christ.
- “Let us go on…” Peter found Our Lord in a deserted place at prayer. An ordinary man would have gone back and met all the people who wanted to praise him. An ordinary man would have been open to another evening of healing at Peter’s house. But Our Lord gently let Peter know that he was much more than just an ordinary man. “Let us go on:” In these words we see Christ’s heart. He has come to fulfill the Father’s will and to save souls. “Let us go on…” There is no time to waste. “Let us go on…” He wants to reach many other souls, to feed them with his words, for he is the Word. He wants to protect them from those who would tear them apart with their lies and deceptions. They need him. “Let us go on….” Does my heart resonate with this invitation? Are my horizons broad when it comes to transmitting Christ to others?
- Do Not Fail Him! Pope Saint John Paul the Great spoke to the Catholic young people of the world in Denver in 1993. He told them not to fail Christ. Christ was placing in their hands a share in his own mission. They were to go out to the whole world; they were to proclaim the good news of salvation. Let us go and give Christ to others. We cannot hold back. In prayer we must hear Christ’s words: “Let us go on.” He will preach through us, through our example, prayer and sacrifices. He will preach through our reaching out to our brothers and sisters in true charity. He will make himself heard if we generously offer ourselves to him. Let us go on; let us not fail him because of our lack of faith, confidence or love. Let us not turn back because of our selfishness, pride or laziness. Let us go on!
Conversation with Christ: Lord, you came that we may have life and have it to the full. You love us so much. Open my heart to the greatness of your love for all mankind. Help me to see that the Church is your Bride and the universal sacrament of salvation. Grant that I may serve you as a faithful son or daughter of the Church, spreading your Word ever further.
Resolution: I will transmit a Christian message to someone today.
February 8, 2021 – Monday of the Fifth Week in Ordinary Time
Faith and Christ’s Healing Power
After making the crossing, Jesus and his disciples came to land at Gennesaret and tied up there. As they were leaving the boat, people immediately recognized him. They scurried about the surrounding country and began to bring in the sick on mats to wherever they heard he was. Whatever villages or towns or countryside he entered, they laid the sick in the marketplaces and begged him that they might touch only the tassel on his cloak; and as many as touched it were healed.
Introductory Prayer: I believe in your power of healing grace, in your capacity to heal both physically and spiritually. I come to you in spiritual illness and weakness, confident in your desire to heal and strengthen me. I humbly offer you my soul, wounded and aching from the spiritual cancer of self-love, pride and self-sufficiency. I abandon myself to your loving mercy. Thank you, Lord, for watching over me and loving me unconditionally.
Petition: Lord, heal my heart and soul, and help me to do what I must do to maintain my spiritual health.
- “People recognized him and started hurrying all through the countryside.” For the most part, the people in this Gospel were not “hurrying throughout the countryside” to invite others to come and seek forgiveness and spiritual healing from Jesus. They were in haste, yes, but in haste to bring the sick so that the Lord would heal them from their physical infirmities. How blind is the human heart that often fears physical illness more than spiritual infirmities and falling out of God’s grace! The gravest ills we can suffer are those that come from within us: “For from the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, unchastity, theft, false witness, blasphemy. These are what defile a person” (Matthew 15:19-20).
- “They laid the sick in the marketplaces and begged him that they might touch only the tassel on his cloak.” Holy men and women throughout the centuries have firmly believed that “touching” Christ through receiving the sacraments brings about spiritual healing and redemption. “My heart has been wounded by many sins,” St. Ambrose used to pray before he celebrated Mass, “my mind and tongue carelessly left unguarded. Lord of kindness and power, in my lowliness and need I am turning to you, the fountain of mercy; I am hurrying to you to be healed; I am taking refuge under your protection. I am longing to meet you, not as my Judge but as my Savior. Lord, I am not ashamed to show you my wounds. Only you know how many and how serious my sins are, and though they could make me fear for my salvation, I am putting my hope in your mercies, which are beyond count. Look on me with mercy, then, Lord Jesus Christ, eternal King, God and man, crucified for our sake. I am putting my trust in you, the fountain that will never stop flowing with merciful love: hear me and forgive my sins and weaknesses.”
- “All those who touched him were cured.” All those who touched Jesus Christ with the touch of faith were cured: the Canaanite woman, the blind man, the ten lepers, the man with a withered hand, the paralytic, Jairus’ daughter, the woman with the hemorrhage, the boy with a demon, the Gerasene demoniac, the deaf man. All these people in the Gospel had something in common: it was their faith that allowed the Lord to heal them. The phrase used in the case of the woman with the hemorrhage is telling: “power had gone out from him” (Mark 5:30). Faith is one of the most powerful acts of the human person, since God himself chooses to be moved by it. How strong is my faith in the power of our Lord Jesus Christ? Do I reach out and touch him in faith every day? Do I allow him to act in my life through faith? What am I waiting for?
Conversation with Christ: Lord, you are all powerful and the source of my salvation and spiritual healing. In this prayer I am reaching out to touch you in faith, even though I am unworthy, and my faith is weak. Heal me, Lord. Give me the strength to resist the power of evil in my life and to adhere to your grace and goodness. Lord, I believe; increase my faith.
Resolution: I will offer up short acts of faith in the Lord throughout the day.
February 9, 2021 – Tuesday of the Fifth Week in Ordinary Time
Now when the Pharisees with some scribes who had come from Jerusalem gathered around Jesus, they observed that some of his disciples ate their meals with unclean, that is, unwashed, hands. (For the Pharisees and, in fact, all Jews, do not eat without carefully washing their hands, keeping the tradition of the elders. And on coming from the marketplace they do not eat without purifying themselves. And there are many other things that they have traditionally observed, the purification of cups and jugs and kettles and beds.) So, the Pharisees and scribes questioned him, “Why do your disciples not follow the tradition of the elders but instead eat a meal with unclean hands?” He responded, “Well did Isaiah prophesy about you hypocrites, as it is written: ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me; In vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines human precepts.’ You disregard God’s commandment but cling to human tradition.” He went on to say, “How well you have set aside the commandment of God in order to uphold your tradition! For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and ‘Whoever curses father or mother shall die.’ Yet you say, ‘If a person says to father or mother, “Any support you might have had from me is qorban”‘ (meaning, dedicated to God), you allow him to do nothing more for his father or mother. You nullify the word of God in favor of your tradition that you have handed on. And you do many such things.”
Introductory Prayer: Lord, thank you for your Gospel and for all the truth it teaches me. Thank you for warning me of attitudes and dispositions that could become temptations for me. I love you for your goodness and mercy, and I entrust myself into your loving hands.
Petition: Lord, help me to serve you sincerely, in truth and in love.
- “This people honors me only with lip service, while their hearts are far from me.” Jesus calls his disciples to authenticity. Too often so-called disciples give the impression of following him, while at the same time accepting sensual loves and lusts in their heart. Although the Pharisees display the outward trappings of holiness, the way they treat Jesus and others betrays their true character. Jesus would call them “whitewashed tombs” (Matthew 15:27): clean and bright on the outside, but full of dead men’s bones within. Self-righteousness would be their downfall. Such dispositions may lend the proud man certain short-term security, but it will always be illusory since it is not rooted in the truth. Is there any way in which I also pay tribute to God with my lips but say something else in my heart, or behave contrariwise in my actions?
- “The worship they offer me is worthless.” True worship begins with humility, when the soul recognizes that it possesses no good in and of itself, but that all of its goodness comes from God. The Pharisees offered no real worship to God since, in effect, they worshipped only themselves by relying more on their talents and goodness than on the goodness that comes from God. It is not insignificant that when Jesus describes a Pharisee’s prayer in the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector, he says “The Pharisee prayed this prayer to himself” (Luke 18:11). How can I make sure that my prayer is truly devoted, meaning that I am addressing Our Lord with the words of my heart?
- “You make God’s word null and void.” The Pharisees used the talents and gifts God had given them not for God’s glory, but for their own personal gain, whether that gain consisted of praise and admiration or personal comfort and ease. True worship of God, truly placing God above all else, involves using the things God created as means to reaching him. As number 226 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church states, “It means making good use of created things: faith in God, the only One, leads us to use everything that is not God only insofar as it brings us closer to him, and to detach ourselves from it insofar as it turns us away from him:
My Lord and my God, take from me everything that distances me from you.
My Lord and my God, give me everything that brings me closer to you.
My Lord and my God, detach me from myself to give my all to you.”
Conversation with Christ: Lord, thank you for my life and all the good things you have given me. Help me to realize that you have created everything and that all I have is from you. May I use all I have to serve others and as a means to come closer to you, the source of all good.
Resolution: I will examine my conscience to see if I am using any of my gifts and talents to glorify or serve only myself. If so, I’ll strive to put these same gifts at the service of God.
February 10, 2021 – Memorial of Saint Scholastica, Virgin
The Kingdom Within
Jesus summoned the crowd again and said to them, “Hear me, all of you, and understand. Nothing that enters one from outside can defile that person; but the things that come out from within are what defile.” When he got home away from the crowd his disciples questioned him about the parable. He said to them, “Are even you likewise without understanding? Do you not realize that everything that goes into a person from outside cannot defile, since it enters not the heart but the stomach and passes out into the latrine?” (Thus, he declared all foods clean.) “But what comes out of a person, that is what defiles. From within people, from their hearts, come evil thoughts, unchastity, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, licentiousness, envy, blasphemy, arrogance, folly. All these evils come from within and they defile.”
Introductory Prayer: Lord, I believe that you are my Creator and Redeemer and that you know all things. Though none of my sins are hidden from you, I know that you still love me unconditionally and are waiting for me to repent and turn to you so that you can forgive me and wash me clean once more. Thank you for loving me infinitely. I offer you my weak love in return.
Petition: Lord, help me to overcome my fallen nature and to put you first in my life.
- “Nothing that goes into a man from the outside can make him unclean.” “The Kingdom of God,” as Christ tells us in the Gospel, “is within you.” Consequently, all that wars against the Kingdom is also within us. Number 405 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us that original sin is a “deprivation of original holiness and justice.” It states that human nature has been “wounded in the natural powers proper to it,” and that it is subject to “ignorance, suffering and the dominion of death; and inclined to sin – an inclination to evil that is called ‘concupiscence.’” This concupiscence causes all sorts of disordered tendencies to surface from within us. These disordered tendencies—if accepted—are, as our Lord tells us, what defiles a man. Our holiness and purification must start from within (in ordering our thoughts and desires according to the Gospel standard) and rise to the surface in concrete deeds of goodness (in words and actions). Where does concupiscence do the most damage in my life?
- “It is the things that come out of a man that make him unclean.” Sin and death entered the world through the disobedience of the Adam. But, “if death came to reign through that one, how much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of justification come to reign in life through the one person Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:15). It is true that death and sin strive to reign in us due to our concupiscence, but it is not less true that we have at our disposal all the means necessary to root sin out from our hearts and live a new life in Christ. Christ has already conquered sin and death. With his grace we can conquer them within our hearts. Without ever looking back we must start out on this path, the path of the reign of Christ within us. Am I sincerely striving to overcome concupiscence in my life?
- “If anyone has ears to hear, let him listen to this.” “If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.” This is a familiar theme in the Liturgy due to the fact that throughout the centuries, people have often closed their hearts to the message of the Gospel and to their own greatest good. In the parable of the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31), the rich man petitions Abraham to send Lazarus from the dead so that he can warn his brothers about the fate that awaits them due to their materialistic, self-centered way of life. The rich man is told that they have the Law and the Prophets, to which he replies that if only someone would return from the dead, the brothers would believe. He is told that even then people would not believe. I cannot permit my heart to be hardened against God’s saving Word! But to remain open, my heart needs to be detached from the pleasures and easy way of living that make me deaf to Christ’s gentle instructions.
Conversation with Christ: Lord, open my ears and lift the veil from my eyes so that I will allow your Kingdom to reign in my heart. Free me from loving anything more than you. Free me to allow you to make demands in my life, demands which are proof of your love. Help me, Lord, to live Christian charity so that I will not be caught off guard on the Day of Judgment.
Resolution: I will foster goodness in my thoughts and desires, and I will deny entrance to anything that would drive Jesus away.
February 11, 2021 – Thursday of the Fifth Week in Ordinary Time
Humility and Faith: Foundation and Cathedral
Jesus went to the district of Tyre. He entered a house and wanted no one to know about it, but he could not escape notice. Soon a woman whose daughter had an unclean spirit heard about him. She came and fell at his feet. The woman was a Greek, a Syrophoenician by birth, and she begged him to drive the demon out of her daughter. He said to her, “Let the children be fed first. For it is not right to take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs.” She replied and said to him, “Lord, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s scraps.” Then he said to her, “For saying this, you may go. The demon has gone out of your daughter.” When the woman went home, she found the child lying in bed and the demon gone.
Introductory Prayer: Lord, I come before you today to learn the lessons of faith that you want to teach me. I want to learn to be patient when you test my faith. I know you want only to make it grow and bear more fruit in my life. In this prayer I desire to trust and love you as you deserve to be loved by me.
Petition: Lord, make my faith vibrant and persevering.
- Seek Ye Higher Gifts: Our Lord is close to us in our sufferings. In this Gospel, a daughter suffered from a demonic possession, and her mother suffered with her. What most strikes us about this passage, however, is that Our Lord initially adds to the mother’s suffering by rebuking her. It seems so out of character, so foreign to the one who is “meek and humble of heart,” so unlike the gentle Jesus who is ever sensitive to the needs of others. Yet Our Lord was about to confer upon her the greatest gift that could befall any human being: the gift of salvation represented by the healing of her daughter. Because the gift was so great, the vessel that was to contain it needed to be prepared.
- Feelings, Nothing More Than Feelings: It is important to remember two principles about our feelings. First, we are not to treat them as if they were the infallible compass of our spiritual lives. Second, their lack of support does not mean that Our Lord is abandoning us. We can easily forget these two principles and blindly follow our feelings, persuasions and seductions. We can wrongly confuse feelings with faith. This believing woman beautifully shows the attitude we must maintain. Her example of humility in the face of Jesus’ seemingly hostile rebuke truly astounds us. No rebellion, no complaints, no resentments, no pity party. She remains determinedly fixed on Christ. She maintains a spirit of humility and faith in him who has the power to deliver her daughter from the devil. Am I capable of persisting in my prayer even when it seems Our Lord is turning a deaf ear?
- A Cathedral of Faith for All to See: If only we could learn from her example! With such a firm foundation to build on, Jesus draws out of her an even greater faith—as large as a cathedral for the entire world to see. We need to ponder and contemplate the mysterious and wise ways of Our Lord when we suffer from his rebukes. We must hold fast to humility, mindful that we are creatures always loved by Christ, our Good Shepherd. He promised he would not leave us orphans. Why then such little faith?
Conversation with Christ: Lord, let me not confuse faith with feelings. Let me not confuse trust with mere sentiment. Never let me reduce my relationship with you to feelings, no matter how pleasurable or worthy I think they may be at that moment. Help me to remain humble in my dispositions and firm in my convictions, seeking only to trust, love and please you.
Resolution: When I experience pleasant, worthy or helpful feelings, I will thank and praise God, and I will channel these feelings toward what is more relevant: living out the deeper virtue of faith.
February 12, 2021 – Friday of the Fifth Week in Ordinary Time
Jesus left the district of Tyre and went by way of Sidon to the Sea of Galilee, into the district of the Decapolis. And people brought to him a deaf man who had a speech impediment and begged him to lay his hand on him. He took him off by himself away from the crowd. He put his finger into the man’s ears and, spitting, touched his tongue; then he looked up to heaven and groaned, and said to him, “Ephphatha!” (that is, “Be opened!”) And immediately the man’s ears were opened, his speech impediment was removed, and he spoke plainly. He ordered them not to tell anyone. But the more he ordered them not to, the more they proclaimed it. They were exceedingly astonished, and they said, “He has done all things well. He makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.”
Introductory Prayer: Lord, I truly sense your love in my heart. I hope in you, for you have won my confidence by revealing your sacrificial love to me. I love you, Lord, and I wish to be a witness of your love to all.
Petition: Lord, open my heart to your love so I may be a convincing witness to the world that your love exists.
- Who Would I Be if I Did Not Have the Faith? We can be so familiar with and immersed in our Catholic heritage that we take for granted the truths we have received from our Catholic Church, much like most of us take for granted our ability to hear or speak. Today’s Gospel gives us an opportunity to contemplate a man who from birth did not enjoy either of these common faculties. There are people who cannot embrace Jesus’ revelation not because it isn’t given, but because they are not prepared to receive it. Let us rejoice in the grace we have received and honor it with our fidelity. What type of person would I be (or soon become) if I didn’t have the gift of faith to support, guide or mold my values?
- Christ Is the Revelation of the Father and His Love: Christ revealed himself to this man, and his power gave him hearing and good speech. “Christ … by the revelation of the mystery of the Father and his love, fully reveals man to man himself and makes his supreme calling clear” (Gaudium et Spes, no. 22). Inasmuch as we are deaf to divine revelation, we are like this man. Unable to speak the message of the meaning of our lives, unable to give ourselves to God and others, life just passes us by. But if God touches our ears and tongue, if he cures and empowers us with his grace, our lives take on a whole new direction and significance. God does touch our ears and tongue, but we must embrace his grace and purpose in our lives.
- We Are Witnesses to the World that Love Exists: Our Lord restored to this man the health of his ears and tongue. Christ thus revealed to him his real identity: “He, who is ‘the image of the invisible God’ (Colossians 1:15), is himself the perfect man” (Redemptor Hominis, no. 10). How difficult his life must have been before this revelation! How hard must it have been for him to believe and love! “Man cannot live without love. He remains a being that is incomprehensible for himself, his life is senseless, if love is not revealed to him, if he does not encounter love, if he does not experience it and make it his own, if he does not participate intimately in it” (Ibid). With his health restored, the man became an agent of God’s redemption. Who could keep him silent now about this wonderful experience of his Savior he has had? How loved by God this man must have felt that day when Christ restored his health! This man believed and so he speaks! Why am I silent? Do I not know that as a Catholic I am to be a witness to the world that love exists?
Conversation with Christ:
Late have I loved you, O Beauty ever ancient, ever new, late have I loved you!
You were within me, but I was outside, and it was there that I searched for you.
In my unloveliness I plunged into the lovely things, which you created.
You were with me, but I was not with you.
Created things kept me from you; yet if they had not been in you, they would not have been at all.
You called, you shouted, and you broke through my deafness.
You flashed, you shone, and you dispelled my blindness.
You breathed your fragrance on me; I drew in breath and now I pant for you.
I have tasted you, now I hunger and thirst for more.
You touched me, and I burned for your peace. (The Confessions of St. Augustine)
Resolution: Today, I will share an aspect of my faith with a friend or family member.
February 13, 2021 – Saturday of the Fifth Week in Ordinary Time
Goodness in Abundance
In those days when there again was a great crowd without anything to eat, Jesus summoned the disciples and said, “My heart is moved with pity for the crowd, because they have been with me now for three days and have nothing to eat. If I send them away hungry to their homes, they will collapse on the way, and some of them have come a great distance.” His disciples answered him, “Where can anyone get enough bread to satisfy them here in this deserted place?” Still he asked them, “How many loaves do you have?” “Seven,” they replied. He ordered the crowd to sit down on the ground. Then, taking the seven loaves he gave thanks, broke them, and gave them to his disciples to distribute, and they distributed them to the crowd. They also had a few fish. He said the blessing over them and ordered them distributed also. They ate and were satisfied. They picked up the fragments left over—seven baskets. There were about four thousand people. He dismissed them and got into the boat with his disciples and came to the region of Dalmanutha.
Introductory Prayer: Lord, how quickly I lose faith and begin to trust more in things that I can touch and see than in your promises and strength. But I do believe in you, that you are the Bread of Life, and that only you can satisfy the deepest longings of my heart. As you are my Creator, you know what I need and provide for me each day. As you are my Redeemer, you lead me along the pathway of the cross and forgiveness. I want to follow you more closely.
Petition: Lord, strengthen my faith, so that I can be magnanimous like you.
- “I feel sorry for all these people.” Jesus shows compassion for the crowd, even for their temporal needs. He knows how earthly they can be, seeking only to satisfy their need for bread and water. In another passage he says, “Why worry about what you are to eat, or drink, or what you are to wear? … All these things the pagans seek” (Matthew 6:25-33) — “pagans,” that is, those with no faith or trust in the heavenly Father. Our Lord does not worry about food and clothing for himself, although he does seek to provide them for others. But his charity doesn’t end there. He sincerely desires their greatest good, and for this reason gives them much more than a passing meal. Together with bread and water, he gives them the gift of faith. After all, “man does not live on bread alone” (Luke 4:4).
- “Where could anyone get bread to feed these people in a deserted place like this?” The apostles ask a very human question, revealing the poverty of their faith in Jesus. Such a question, without faith, would become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Since the task seems impossible, why try at all? How often does this way of thinking rein us in from doing great things for God and expecting great things from him? How often do we resign ourselves to defeat, content to mourn and lament seemingly hopeless situations, as if God were not almighty and willing to help us? We need the faith of the Blessed Virgin, who believed the impossible and became the mother of all who believe.
- “They ate as much as they wanted, and they collected seven basketfuls of the scraps left over.” Jesus offers the fullness of life and love, an abundance of goodness and grace, to all who follow him. His ways are the ways of life. He allows us to suffer want in this life so that we will tap into the true source of abundance through faith, hope and love. Those who seek themselves by seeking purely material goods—which are limited by definition—will always be in want and will always feel the threat of losing what they have. Those who seek Christ and his grace—which is unlimited by definition—will never fear when they lose their earthly goods. That is why Jesus says that to anyone who has (faith, hope, love, grace, the gifts of the spiritual life), more will be given, and from the one who has not (none of these spiritual gifts), even what he seems to have (material possessions which are here today and gone tomorrow, always decaying and coming to an end) will be taken away (Luke 8:18).
Conversation with Christ: Lord, give me the gift of compassion, so that I may serve others with your heart. Give me the gifts of faith, hope and love so that I will understand that your goodness knows no bounds or limits, and that you wish to pour out your grace on all until our cups are overflowing.
Resolution: I will be magnanimous in my charity towards others today.
February 14, 2021 – Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time
I Do Will It!
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 him sternly, he dismissed him at once. Then 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.
Introductory Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank you for letting me begin this week contemplating your infinite mercy and love for me. I need your healing touch to become the saint you created me to be. I know you want to heal me because you gave me the gift of my faith: to know and love you and experience the intense joy in following you.
Petition: Lord, I want to be made clean. Touch my heart and heal me with your merciful love.
- In Need of Healing: Like the leper in this Gospel, I, too, am in need of healing. He came humbly, as a beggar, for he had no way of repaying Jesus for such a great act of kindness. But his humility was founded on faith. Confident in the scriptural passage, “Do not reject a suppliant in distress, or turn your face away from the poor” (Sirach 4:4), he insisted reverently. He had no doubt that Jesus could cure him, that Jesus would take interest in an insignificant and anonymous leper. He was asking Our Lord for a miracle, and he knew Jesus would grant it. He also knew that he did not deserve or merit such a gesture of mercy. Even if Jesus refused his plea, he was ready to accept it.
- Moved with Pity: Jesus was moved with pity. He stretched out his hand to touch the leper, revealing God the Father’s will in a tender way: “I do will it. Be made clean.” Jesus was moved more by the leper’s humble faith than by his leprosy. The leper’s plea struck at the very core of the mission of the Redeemer. Jesus desires nothing more than to remove sin and its effect in us. Jesus “came into the world to save sinners” (1 Timothy 1:15) and said, “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly” (John 10:10). The gesture of charity towards the leper foreshadows Christ’s redemptive death for all mankind. Jesus wants to reach out to touch our heart and heal us, too. We believe this to be true. All we need to do is let him, approaching him with humility and exercising our faith.
- Changed Forever: The encounter with Jesus changed the leper’s life forever. Rather than an encounter with love, it was an encounter of love. Every encounter requires someone’s initiative. Although the leper is the one to approach Jesus, is it not Jesus who first makes himself accessible? In the same way, Jesus had initiated the encounter with his first disciples when he walked along the shores of Lake Tiberius, allowing Andrew and John to ask, “Rabbi, where are you staying?” (John 1:38). Lord Jesus, you enter into my life because you want to show me the way to everlasting life with you. Is it not you, kind and gentle Lord, who invites me: “Come to me, all you that are weary and are heavy burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28)?
Conversation with Christ: Lord Jesus, you are so merciful to me! Thank you for loving me so much. How anxiously you wait to fill me with your love, to heal me from the leprosy of my sins. Help me to be open to your embrace of healing love, confident that each time I kneel before you to beg your forgiveness, you will be moved with pity to touch me and make me clean.
Resolution: Today, I will imitate God’s merciful love in my own life with everyone with whom I enter into contact: family, fellow employees, friends.