We continue this week in [Extra] Ordinary Time to be challenged by our brother Jesus to, as always, be our best selves. He asks us “to be willing,” to basically show up and do our part! This kind of challenge is never convenient, often not fun, but the “good stuff” of being Jesus’ followers. Peace and love to you all–stay safe and well–Pastor Kathy
P.S. Please call or email should you wish to chat or if I can be of any help to you–507-429-3616, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Loving God, be my rock of safety, the stronghold that saves me. For the honor of Your name, lead me and guide me.
Let Us Pray
Creator God of heaven and earth, the loving plan of your wisdom took flesh in Jesus, the Christ and changed humankind’s history by your perfect act of love. May we fulfill in our lives your loving outreach to our world—we ask this in Jesus’ name, along with you our Creator and the Spirit who all live and love us forever and ever, Amen.
- Leviticus 13: 1-2, 44-46
- 1 Corinthians 10: 31–11: 1
- Mark 1: 40-45
My friends, in today’s gospel from Mark, we hear Jesus’ compassionate words as the Scripture passage says, “He was moved with pity.” A leper comes to him and says, “If you are willing—you can heal me.” And Jesus’ response comes to us, “as the light in the darkness” that each of us so needs in these times fraught with a pandemic, economic instability, systemic racism, unaddressed clericalism within our beloved Church and so much more. I might add, many live, in hope, that at least 17 individuals in Washington might be “willing’’ to do the right thing for our democracy this week.
Jesus responds as we expect that he would: [Yes,] “I am willing!” It’s a simple, yet compelling statement.
A bit of cultural, back story is important to truly know just how “compelling” Jesus’ statement is. The time in which he lived had the cultural practice of shunning people with illness that they couldn’t explain—any skin inflammation or sore was considered to be “leprous” and people were literally afraid for their lives of such things that they didn’t understand. The result then was to send such afflicted people out of the community in which they lived.
Now it is bad enough to do this when a person is vulnerable and most in need; but the added piece was the “community” was everything to the Israelite people and to be put outside of that community was a death sentence for them. This was so because no one cared for their physical needs and this, as a result affected them not only physically, but emotionally and spiritually as well. Additionally, people connected physical illness with sin—a double bind that most people of the time wanted nothing to do with!
Because of fear, the community responded in less than a human way and thus, Jesus’ reaction to the social outcast who dared to present to him is so much more compelling! “I am willing!”
There has been much in this past year of pandemic that has called each of us to, in effect say, “Yes, I am willing!” And in those things where I have asked your assistance to serve those less fortunate; I am truly grateful for those of you who have stepped up and said, “I am willing!” I will share just a short list here:
- February Home-Delivered Meals—to all who have and still are participating, with special mention to Michael Maher for once again organizing this outreach.
- For those helping a young family with some meal assistance during a hard time for them.
- For those continuing to make meals for the Catholic Worker.
- For the continued generous financial giving of so many of you so that we can reach out in significant ways in our city, nation, and world.
While the above wonderful actions are about physical ways that people within our community have said, in effect, “Yes, I am willing,” our brother, Jesus, continues to call each of us “to be willing” to make those significant changes in our lives that sometimes call us to go deeper and even sometimes, to stand alone.
I am speaking of changing our hearts and minds—perhaps our ways of thinking, to see, “a bigger picture,” to include a stranger, to listen to the story of someone whom, on the surface, we may not even like, or fear.
Fear is a powerful emotion that might cause us to be less than human, less than Christian—to do things within a group that we might not do alone.
This past week, the House Managers of our United States Congress made a compelling case for why Donald Trump should be convicted of high crimes and misdemeanors, calling senators, some of whom are far from saying, “I am willing” to make this personal—for themselves, for their families, for our country—not just another political exercise. It has been said, “the greatest way for evil to triumph is that good [people] remain silent.”
There is much in our beloved country that needs fixing—from those who would tear our democracy asunder as on January 6th, people whom I believe live and act in our world out of a great deal of fear, to meeting the needs of all our people, those abused because they were born with beautiful black and brown skins, as women, as people who love differently than what some consider, “normal,” and the list can go on.
I am part of a new group in the Winona Community who is trying to assist those coming to our southern borders seeking asylum from countries where they have been abused and fear for their lives. Pastor Dick Dahl joins me in this group. Our Steering Committee of perhaps 8-10 people spent some time “dreaming” in a recent call about where we would like to see this mission in say, 2,3,5 years. This is the real “heart work” that our humanity and our spirituality—our very faith demands of us—that our brother Jesus is calling us to today in the story of the leper who “assuring” Jesus that, he can help, “if he is willing.”
After our Steering Committee Meeting this week, I spent some one-on-one time with a member as we talked about what is truly needed from us as members of faith groups when we try to meet the needs of those seeking asylum. Basically, we agreed that our faith challenges us to make the hard decisions, even if we must stand alone. Part of our joint “dreaming” was to recall the words of Teilhard de Chardin, “Someday, after mastering the winds, the waves, the tides, and gravity, we shall harness for God the energies of love, and then, for a second time in the history of the world, [humans] will have discovered fire.”
My friends, Paul tells us this week through the Corinthians, that, “whatever you do, do it for the glory of God. To me, that says, because our God lives and breathes and acts through each of us, we show our glory and become all that we were meant to be.
The reading from Leviticus gives the Old Testament rendition of what the people in Jesus’ time were still living with—the notion that one of us, any of us would ever be considered, “unclean” and must be shunned. Moses lived some 1300 years before our brother, Jesus, and in his time, he shows us the way—[Yes] “I am willing” to say that is wrong and to help you. We, as Jesus followers must do the same, my friends—we must in our times, be willing too to right the wrongs! Amen? Amen!
Prayers of the Faithful
Response: “Jesus, be with us.”
- Jesus, our Brother, as we reflect on making choices that affect ourselves and others in wholesome ways, give us the strength to move ahead and be true disciples in action, we pray—Response: “Jesus, be with us.”
- O God, be with all world leaders—in our country and throughout the world—instill within each the wisdom of your Spirit to lead their people well. Help all to find the ways to peace, we pray—Response: “Jesus, be with us.”
- Loving God, give each of us health of body, mind, and spirit–especially those with COVID, but with all other illnesses too, struggling today, many times beyond what they feel capable of bearing—give each one your strength and wonderful gift of peace, we pray—Response: “Jesus, be with us.”
- Loving Jesus, help those looking for work to find what they need, be with those offering work, help each to move in justice to offer a living wage, we pray—Response: “Jesus, be with us.”
- O God, help us always to strive to be people of peace, not war—help us to remember that Jesus has glorified our humanity by his presence in it, help us to treat people and our world accordingly, we pray—Response: “Jesus, be with us.”
- Loving God, be with each of us today giving us what we most need in life, to be your loving servants, we pray—Response: “Jesus, be with us.”
- For our community, All Are One, continue to give us welcoming hearts to be open to all who come to us, help us to discern the new ways you may wish to lead our community, we pray— Response: “Jesus, be with us.”
- Loving Jesus, be with all families who have lost loved ones this week, from COVID and all other causes—give them your peace and help them to find their way through their grief, we pray—Response: “Jesus, be with us.”
***Let us pray for the silent petitions on our hearts—pause, then response
Let Us Pray
Loving God, be our strength, give us your wisdom; show us the way to make the choices for life and goodness in our world. Let our fear dissipate as we consider what needs to be done as your disciples. Give us your heart to love our world and your people. Let us never be afraid to speak or act for the truth especially when people suffer for lack of the truth. Help us to be able to walk a bit in others’ shoes especially those we find hard to love—give us your understanding and your mercy always. Surround our lives with your care. Bless us, keep us, and hold us in your love—we ask all this of you, Loving Creator, Savior, Spirit—one God, living within us and loving us forever and ever, Amen.
Let Us Pray—Again, we can’t be together physically at the table to share Jesus in a physical way—but remember that Jesus is ALWAYS with us!
Prayer of Communion
Jesus, holy One, you give us food from heaven. May we always hunger for the bread of life. Grant this in your loving name—Amen.