Saturday, February 11, 2012

6th Sunday of Ordinary Time, B

Jesus heals the leper and returns him to society.

Today we hear in the first reading of the Levitical law regarding the handling of those afflicted with Leprosy.  They must make themselves obvious in manner and appearance, present themselves to the priest and dwell apart from others.  This is a failed expression of the law because these people are marginalized and does not witness to the exemplary manner that the children of Israel are called to; in fact it does not distinguish the Chosen People from the actions of ordinary pagans.

St. Paul exhorts us to imitate Christ in all things by showing glory to Him.  Doing so will benefit all.

In the Gospel we have an ironic twist.  By healing the leper, Jesus becomes the outcast, having now to remain on the outskirts of villages.  At his cure, the leper returns to society after the prescribed ritual cleansing by the priest.  

In our nation today we Catholics may feel a bit like lepers.  Our government has initiated wide sweeping "healthcare reform" that thumbs its nose at religious liberty and freedom of conscience.  We must support these unpopular measures or face serious fines, perhaps criminal charges.  

This strategy is the epitome of "radical secularism", a phrase coined by none other than our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI.  The government is saying in a way that we will not be undeterred in marginalizing religious belief and rights, despite that constitutional protections afforded such.  Radical secularism purports    that religious beliefs are best kept private out of the public realm where they can challenge relativistic moral "values".  

Pope Benedict XVI has said (in Light of the World) that radical secularism is the greatest evil existent in the world today.  It attempts to overshadow the objective Truth of our faith: that all life is sacred, created in the image and likeness of God and has an inviolable right to life.  This is enshrined in the deposit of faith and our U.S. Constitution.

Some have said the modern "secularists" want us Catholics out of education, health care and social services.  This is despite the good we do; as St. Paul said, "To the benefit of all".  This stance against us is despite the fact that we are the largest private educator in the U.S., the largest private health care network and social service agencies.  And we refuse no one!

The current issues and Gospel message of today show us that we have much work to do.  We must object strenuously to these affronts by politicians on religious liberty and freedom of conscience.  We must contact our senators and representatives and vote with our conscience next fall.  It is no longer the time to act on our emotions and vote for the popular choice.  Instead we must invoke real change by the power of our voices and our votes.  

Failing this, we will mimic the leper we hear about in the OT Leviticus reading and be banned to the margins of society.  Instead we can go to Christ who heals and restores us to our rightful place as advocates for all in the public square.

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