“Do you consider yourself a leper?”
That was Father’s opening line in his homily today, drawing on today's readings from Leviticus and the Gospel of Mark dealing with lepers and leprosy. Leprosy, of course, is a physical ailment, but in Scripture it is also a metaphor for sin, and sin, as Father pointed out, “renders the human person ugly.” The separation of lepers from the community that we see in the reading from Leviticus shows how our sin can isolate us and “lead us into narcissism.” And, to get back to original question, we are all lepers, because “we all suffer to a degree from the leprosy of sin, but that’s not our true likeness.” If we approach the Lord in a spirit of repentance (in the sacrament of confession in particular), we will indeed be cured: the Lord will say to us as to the leper in today’s Gospel, “I do will it. Be made clean.”
Father’s homily got me thinking. The Good News of the Gospel can seem to us, in our “diseased” state, to be something of a Good News/Bad News proposition: Christ is willing to forgive us, but we need to be willing to give up our sin. We all know just how comfortable some of our habitual sins can be, how hard it is to picture living without them. One of the practical effects of the spiritual disciplines of Lent is to train our weak flesh to obey our willing spirits (see Matthew 26:41), but our spirits usually do not become truly willing without the help of the Lord who wills us to be made clean. For that reason He has given us the sacraments of the Eucharist and, yes, Confession. If you will it, Lord, you can make me clean . . . because I, too, am a leper.
Links for the Week at Principium et Finis:
Tuesday – “Miserere Mei, Have Mercy on Me – Psalm 51” Allegri’s stunning “Miserere”, written to be performed in the Sistine Chapel, is here paired with views of Michelangelo’s Last Judgment, which is painted above the same Chapel’s altar. I's a pleasing mach.
“Attende, Domine” – The choir sings this beautiful traditional hymn as Pope Benedict XVI blesses ashes on Ash Wednesday, 2010, at the Basilica of Santa Sabina in Rome.
Wednesday - – “Abortion Myth #2” Abortion promoters will tell you that abortion is safer than childbirth; the facts say something else . . .
Thursday – “Feed My Sheep” When Jesus asks us whether we love him, how will we answer?
“Remember,Man, That Thou Art Dust” – A Reflection on Humility, Ash Wednesday, and Roman Triumphs
Friday – “Aborigines, Materialists, and the Veracity of the Gospels” If a magazine with” Scientific “ in its title says so, they’ll believe that Australia’s original inhabitants can remember detailed information from 10,000 years before . . . but somehow the first Christians couldn’t remember the Son of God accurately after a few decades?
"Merton's Tale of the Trappists vs. the Icarians" Thomas Merton’s parable about what happens when the City of God meets the City of Man.
Sunday - "Sunday Snippets - A Catholic Carnival & Thomas Merton, Tertullian for Our Time" A weekly Catholic Blogasbord and some thoughts on the checkered career of Trappist author Thomas Merton.