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    Society of Saint-Vincent-de-Paul

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Spiritual readings for Sunday 11th of February

05 February 2018 CGI news

Spiritual readings for Sunday 11th of February

Week of 5th February 2018 (reference: readings for Sunday 11th February)

6th Sunday of Ordinary Time - Year B - Reading: Lev 13, 1-2.44-46; Ps 31 (32); 1 Cor 10, 31-11,1; Mk 1, 40-45

“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”

Vincentian Reflection

In the readings for this week, God asks us to think about purity (or perhaps impurity) and about how we should behave with "impure" people. In this sense, He shows that the service to others should not be conditioned by our prejudice on "purity", when He himself treats us without distinction or discrimination.

The first reading presents the legislation that set out the way to treat the lepers. It is impressive how, from a distorted image of God, men are able to invent mechanisms of discrimination and rejection in His name. Besides their suffering because of physical ailments, lepers had to suffer the evil of rejection, discrimination and lack of love from others.

The Gospel shows a new law. Not only that Jesus does not discriminate the leper, he also goes to meet him and touch him. Touching has a very deep sense, because no one even came close to the leper, to avoid becoming impure. Jesus has no fear, because he knows that his purity comes from the Father and from his mercy. Later, Jesus heals the leper and asks him not to say anything to anyone: it was not necessary that others saw him so superior to the leper that he could heal him. In the end, the Father is the one who liberates.

St. Paul, in his Letter to the Corinthians of this week, also asked the Jews not to worry about superficial precepts. Jews were not allowed to eat the meat of animals that were sacrificed in the temples of heathens and offered to pagan idols. Paul comes to say that you can eat whatever you want, because the basic law is the law of love; it is necessary to get rid of all kinds of prejudice (even the one concerning "impure" meat) and focus on the essentials: mercy and love.

Did lepers of the time before Jesus suffer from something different from today's lepers or from the Poor and abandoned ones that we, Vincentians, are helping today? When we listen to someone who has serious problems of desolation, and therefore reacts sharply towards us, are we able to understand such suffering or the "inner leprosy" that this person has or has had in the past? Or we rather get together with the "pure like us" so that we somehow discriminate and abandon them? Do we discriminate in this way in our family, in our Conference, in our parish? 

The real Vincentian charisma is not the charisma of the first reading, but the one in the Gospel, the one that reaches out to the 'leprous' brother and touches him without fear, listens to him, and understands his history, in order to heal him. And then asks him not to tell anything to anyone, because we do not want to be known as those who were "superior" or "purer" than others, to the extent that we can cure them.

Also, when choosing a family to assist, we should not worry if they are "impure" or about what they eat or they did. If God has place the family on our way, it is because He wants us to be merciful as He is with us; in the end, it is because He wants us to be imitators of Christ, like Paul. True humility accepts that we are as pure or impure as those we serve: who purifies them, through us, is the Lord. And, as a merciful effect, when we purify others, we purify ourselves, eliminating our 'leprosy' and our prejudices.