6th Sunday Ordinary Time – 2021

“God willing”… these are powerful words. Have you ever said them at the end of a sentence? For instance you may be talking about some event in your life and you will say, “it will happen, God willing”

What do we mean when we say this? before we answer this question I think we need to understand a little bit more about this thing we call the will. It is an aspect of our spiritual self. It is part of our soul. This is one of the fundamental ways we are made in the image and likeness of God.

Our human soul has two main aspects. Our intellect and our will. Our intellect is our ability to understand. It is the source of our cognition and knowledge base. It also leads us to a state of wisdom which is understanding knowledge according to its intended and proper use.

The will is the ability to give assent or dissent. To say it more plainly, it is our ability to say “yes” to something or to say “no”to something.

Imagine a two-year-old being told to take a nap. Imagine the two-year-old does not want to take a nap. Imagine the two-year-old responding very emphatically with the words “no no no”. An onlooker may observe this moment, smile, and say that is certainly a strong willed child. And that would be accurate. In that moment the two-year-old child is exerting is will. He is emphatically saying no to the nap.

By means of another example, imagine watching a couple in the moment of their wedding as they exchange their vows. Technically this is called the moment of consent – the exchange of consent. Each is saying, “I consent to take you as my spouse”. It is a profound exercise of the will. It is a profound assent – a life changing “yes” to the other.

So when we understand what it is to have our own will as part of our soul, we can begin to understand how that reflects God in Whose image and likeness we are made. We pray the Lord‘s prayer, the Our Father, and we say “thy will be done”.

In today’s Gospel the man comes to Jesus in need of healing. As a leper the man needed physical healing certainly. But in the days of Jesus, the community would have shunned the leper and literally made him an outcast, The community would have reinforced the idea that the man was sick not just physically but also in terms of his entire person. They would have treated him as if he was unclean and unhealthy in terms of who he was – not just in terms of his body. He would’ve been told over and over that his body was bad because his soul was bad. So it takes tremendous courage for this leper to approach Jesus and ask for healing. If the man is healed in his body then that means God loves him. It means he is not bad. It means that he in fact is good and can be healed and loved. When Jesus heals, He heals the entire person. He does not just heal physically. He heals spiritually. This means that Jesus heals relationships.

It is very interesting that the man approaches Jesus and says “if you will to do so“. We hear the immediate reply of Jesus. Jesus states, I do will it.”

This is a powerful statement of God’s love. This statement reveals God‘s will. It reveals that God says yes to loving us. It reveals that God says yes to healed relationships. It says yes to overcoming any perceived flaws and lifting us up to a state of grace, to a state of wholeness. It is an affirmation of God‘s care and love. The leper was someone everyone thought to be beyond gods love. In this powerful moment Jesus heals the leper and brings him and everyone else to the understanding that this man is loved by God.

Note that the healed leper can now approach the priests – the leaders of the community. He can approach anyone who will listen. He goes everywhere and interacts with anyone. this is the healed relationship. It is Jesus ho then goes to the deserted places. Do you see the switch. The leper was once the one in the deserted places. Now he enters any town. Jesus takes his place – much like later Jesus offers Himself on the Cross for all humanity – taking our place to pay the price for the sins of the world.

Now what does this mean for us? It means that God intends for us to know His love. It means that God says yes to loving us. It means that God is saying yes to helping bring forth the best in us. It means that God heals and overlooks anything that we think is wrong with us. It affirms powerfully that God sees us as good and as worthy of His love. All of this is the message of today’s Gospel.

I think too many of us focus on what we think is wrong about ourselves. I think too many of us have adopted a self view that focuses on flaws. While it is always good to be aware of our areas of improvement and challenge, these things cannot prevent us or blind us from accepting God’s view of us. Our God died for us. There is no greater love. As you start your day, my prayer for you is that you remember this. Remember that God says yes to your goodness. God says yes to your being worthy of love. God says yes to you. Let us go forth into this week with this wonderful affirmation and message. And always may God‘s will be done.

First Reading
Lv 13:1-2, 44-46

The leper will dwell apart, making an abode outseide the camp.

A reading from the Book of Leviticus

The Lord said to Moses and Aaron,
   “If someone has on his skin a scab or pustule or blotch
   which appears to be the sore of leprosy,
   he shall be brought to Aaron, the priest,
   or to one of the priests among his descendants.
If the man is leprous and unclean,
   the priest shall declare him unclean
   by reason of the sore on his head.

“The one who bears the sore of leprosy
   shall keep his garments rent and his head bare,
   and shall muffle his beard;
   he shall cry out, ‘Unclean, unclean!’
As long as the sore is on him he shall declare himself unclean,
   since he is in fact unclean.
He shall dwell apart, making his abode outside the camp.”

Responsorial Psalm
Ps 32:1-2, 5, 11

R. :

R. (7) I turn to you, Lord, in time of trouble, and you fill me with the joy of salvation

Blessed is he whose fault is taken away
   whose sin is covered.
Blessed the man to whom the LORD imputes not guilt,
   in whose spirit there is no guile.

R. I turn to you, Lord, in time of trouble, and you fill me with the joy of salvation.

Then I acknowledged my sin to you,
   my guilt I covered not.
I said, “I confess my faults to the LORD,”
   and you took away the guilt of my sin.

R. I turn to you, Lord, in time of trouble, and you fill me with the joy of salvation.

Be glad in the LORD and rejoice, you just;
   exult, all you upright of heart.

R. I turn to you, Lord, in time of trouble, and you fill me with the joy of salvation.

Second Reading
1 Cor 10:31-11:1

Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.

A reading from the first Letter of Saint Paul to the Corinthians

Brothers and sisters,
Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do,
   do everything for the glory of God.
Avoid giving offense, whether to the Jews or Greeks or the church of God,
   just as I try to please everyone in every way,
   not seeking my own benefit but that of the many,
   that they may be saved.
Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.

Gospel Acclamation
Lk 7:16

R. Alleluia, alleluia.

A great prophet has arisen in our midst,
God has visited his people.

R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Mk 1:40-45

The leprosy left him, and he was made clean.

croce_vangelo.pngA reading from the holy Gospel according to Mark

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.

At the end of the Gospel, the Deacon, or the Priest, acclaims:

The Gospel of the Lord.

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