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His Merciful Heart
Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time
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. 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.
Opening Prayer: Jesus, I put myself in your presence, deeply aware of my weakness. I cry to you like the leper, “ If you wish you can make clean—and holy, and pure, and good!
- Our Impossible Dreams: Many times in life we find ourselves yearning for something that seems elusive and out of reach. It might have to do with our health, like the leper in the reading today, or it might be something in another realm of our lives. When we realize that we cannot have it on our own, that our sheer human frailty puts it beyond reach, we can say with the leper, “If you wish you can make me clean.” That kind of prayer, from our weakness, speaks from the deepest part of our soul. In those moments we show the depth of our faith.
- Magnetic Misery: For us, misery can repel, making us look away. For Jesus, it acts like a magnet; it pulls him in and his merciful heart feels compelled to bring relief. Confident and trusting in Christ’s heart, we need to look our cynicism in the eye and say “begone Satan.” Without faith, we wallow, but with faith, we seek the loving gaze of Jesus who saves us from sinking into a miserable morass.
- Devoted Discretion: “See that you tell no one.” This directive of Jesus seems puzzling; Scripture scholars speak of the “messianic secret,” in which Jesus sought to avoid people projecting upon him mistaken notions of who the Messiah was to be. But for us, what might it mean? Perhaps we could think of how we must savor our blessings and graces in our hearts and not merely on our social media platforms. Counting our “likes” does not feed our souls in the way that simply resting in the beauty of Jesus’s loving care for us does.
Conversing with Christ: Lord, I bring you my misery and my smallness. Help me, Lord! I give you my wholehearted cry of faith so that you will rescue me and come to my aid. Never allow me to doubt your goodness. On this day that celebrates love, I thank you for the beautiful relationships in my life. Help me to appreciate more deeply each person I have been privileged to know and love.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will stop my work every few hours to thank you for surrounding me with love, both human and divine.
For Further Reflection: Who is St. Valentine?
Father Steven Reilly, LC, joined the Legion of Christ in 1982. He was ordained in 1994 and has worked in Connecticut, Texas, Maryland, New York, and currently in Georgia. He has worked as a spiritual director, a school chaplain, and the superior of Legionary communities.
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Thank you, Father, for this beautiful reflection. Sometimes, during Mass, it’s difficult to deeply reflect on the Word, and these Gospel reflections truly help.