Homily for Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

14 February 2021 by Fr. James DiLuzio C.S.P.

“The ‘Boss,’ the Pope, a church in Lebanon, and our True INHERITANCE”

An article on MSN website came to my attention this week.  Entitled “The ‘Boss,’ the Pope and a church in Lebanon,” by Boyd Matheson, it described the synchronicity of 3 events worthy of world attention:  In a unique Super Bowl ad, Bruce urged Americans to put aside our differences and foster mutual respect, reconciliation, and collaboration for a better future. Using the symbol of a little church in Lebanon, Kansas, located at the literal center of the continental United States, his message was meant to empower a coming together figuratively, spiritually, physically, of all Americans to “the Center,” the heart of what our nation is supposed to be.

Meanwhile, at the Vatican, Pope Francis, in the annual assembly of ambassadors to the Holy See, issued this statement: “The democratic process,” he said, “calls for pursuing the path of inclusive, peaceful, constructive and respectful dialogue among all the components of civil society in every city and nation.”  The Pope went on to say, ““I am convinced that fraternity (I’ll add the implied “sorority”) is the true cure for the pandemic and the many evils that have affected us. Along with vaccines, fraternity and hope are, as it were, the medicine we need in today’s world.”

And listen to this title of an article from AMERICA magazine: “For the first time, Pope Francis appoints a woman with the right to vote as undersecretary of the synod of bishops” Her name is Nathalie Becquart, a member of the Xavière Sisters, Missionaries of Jesus Christ, in France.

And, as if this were not GOOD NEWS enough, I found this series entitled INHERITANCE published online by ATLANTIC magazine filled with articles on all that we have missed in African American history to advance common knowledge, empathy, and dialogue among Americans of European and African descent.  I highly recommend you look it up.  Here’s the link:

How W. E. B. Du Bois Changed Black Childhood in America – The Atlantic

Within the INHERITANCE project, I read about the great humanitarian and civil rights activist W.E.B. du Bois’ 1920 efforts publishing a Magazine for Black Children called THE BROWNIE BOOK with this goal: 

“It aims to be a thing of Joy and Beauty, dealing in Happiness, Laughter and Emulation, and designed especially for Kiddies from Six to Sixteen. It will seek to teach Universal Love and Brotherhood for all little folk—black and brown and yellow and white. Of course, pictures, stories, letters from little ones, games and oh—everything!

The effort lasted only two years because of lack of subscriptions but it is the kind of thing that this 21st century needs. We still do not live in a world, or a country, in which every child, especially minorities whose skin is dark, brown, copper, yellow receive this kind of affirmation with freedom from fear of being who they are and who God calls them to be.  This is urgent as we address the goals of BLACK LIVES MATTER and to address the related issues, we read in today’s news headlines “A Tense Lunar New Year for the Bay Area After Attacks on Asian-Americans.”  Tragically, yet another minority continues to be scapegoated through violence not only because of pre-existing, lingering prejudices but because of the irrational blaming for a peoples’ proximity to the place where the corona virus originated.

And here’s another NEWS ITEM: God Is On Your Side: A Statement from Catholic Bishops on Protecting LGBT Youth: “As Catholic Bishops in the United States, we join with the Tyler Clementi Foundation in standing up for at-risk LGBT youth in our country.  . . As we see in the Gospels, Jesus Christ taught love, mercy and welcome for all people, especially for those who felt persecuted or marginalized in any way . . . The Catholic Church values the God-given dignity of all human life and we take this opportunity to say to our LGBT friends, especially young people, that we stand with you and oppose any form of violence, bullying or harassment directed at you. . . Most of all, know that God created you, God loves you and God is on your side.”

God Is On Your Side: A Statement from Catholic Bishops on Protecting LGBT Youth • Tyler Clementi Foundation

Taking all these things into account—we must trust that the Holy Spirit is indeed active in the world for all of these news items to come together in a single week! — we must embrace the goal of affirming all peoples, all children –with ministries and programs to support them – as the necessary objective of our age.

Why do I focus on this insistence on TRUE COMMUNION among all peoples?  Because we are the JESUS’ FOLLOWERS WHO INSIST ON COMMUNION and because today’s Gospel involving Jesus curing the leaper is as much about restoring an individual back into his family and neighborhood as it is about his individual healing.  

In the Book of Leviticus, Moses and Aaron are cited as preaching the need to separate the lepers from the community to preserve the health of the larger group.  But this separation did not exclude care, delivery of food and necessities to the leper camp. As then, and now, the mysteries of illnesses and diseases require caution, prudence, and support.  Jesus, however, extends the care to freedom from fear and solidarity in suffering – that is the meaning of the CROSS and the fact that Jesus touches the leper. The medical community continues to be exemplary in responding to the COVID-19 virus and inspired compassionate treatment of family members and friends even as they need to stay in isolation.  Today’s Gospel reminds us that ultimate goal, however, always was and always will be INCLUSION and that HEALING includes liberation from whatever separates us, be it physical illness or the diseases of prejudice, fear, hate and violence.

What a gift that Jesus welcomes his followers to Communion. What a privilege to know that the sacrament we participate in today strengthens us with courage and wisdom to persevere in offering true communion to the world.

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