Green vestments and tabernacle covers will not be seen at mass from Shrove Tuesday 17 February (the forgiving day before Ash Wednesday) until 26 May, the Tuesday after Pentecost Sunday. We shall go purple from next Wednesday through to 1 April, the Wednesday of Holy Week. After the sacred three days (Holy Thursday night to Easter Sunday evening) we shall go white to celebrate that death did not win the day on Good Friday with our Lord’s death.
Even before the culminating events of his mission to let everyone know the Good News of God’s love for and acceptance of them healing flowed from Christ. The man with leprosy whom he touched before he healed him is yet another instance of acceptance and healing.
With the outbreak of Ebola we are very well aware of the lengths health and civil authorities will go to controlling the spread of this fatal disease. We are accustomed to quarantine regulations put in place for the same reason with other diseases. With this background knowledge we can understand the laws laid down by Moses about those infected with leprosy an infectious disease in its early stages. For the sake of the well being of others those affected had to live outside the camp until they cured. The priests in those days were the ones responsible for verifying that a sufferer was cured. The quarantining was not a life sentence but a time for the healing processes to take hold before returning.
What happens with health issues happens with social issues. Only this week we read reports of a man convicted of sexually abusing children being denied release from prison even though the sentence he was given when convicted ended some years back. The decision to keep him in prison was from concern for youngsters in society. He was judged to be too serious a risk of offending again to be released. It is not that society did not care for him. This care is shown in the upkeep provided to those imprisoned.
The fact that Jesus reached out and touched the man with the disease before speaking words that brought healing is significant. Possibly this was the first touch from a non-infected person he had felt for a long time. The touch itself was healing. Jesus did not ignore the health regulations of the day by reminding the man to see the priest as the law required for his cure to be verified. Then he was free to return to the camp, the society, from which he had been excluded.
Within homes, within society, within church, some are excluded for a time to protect the unity and well-being of the group but never with the view that the condition they are in is terminal. Depending on the frame of mind of those who pose a danger to the well-being of the group there may never be reconciliation. But especially as disciples we hope for a personal triumph of God’s grace in the person who has abandoned goodness for evil.
Lent is the six weeks we dedicate to that task. What thoughts, words or deeds separate us from the community? What danger do we pose to the well-being of the community sent into the world to let others know who Christ is? Spend time in personal prayer with our Lord seeking his guidance and strength to know yourself and bring about the change your well-being and the well-being of society needs.
Fr Adrian Farrelly
|Feb 26, 2015||6th Sunday in Ordinary Time 15.02.2015||Listen||Download|