“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.”
“‘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.”
Jesus heals the man with leprosy, but does much more than just heal a terrible disease. Leprosy was dangerous. It had the potential to infect and destroy the entire community. Those infected were required to keep others at a distance and to live outside of the community. They were unclean and disconnected. Relationships were cut off, families ripped apart, and even practice of the faith was excluded.
Leprosy is a symbol of sin in our lives and in the world. Individually, sin scars us, whether our own or that of others. In a sense, it is infectious: sin naturally breeds more sin. Sin pushes others away, creates separation, and destroys community. Even sins of omission, when we don’t do what we ought to do, break down our relationships. Personal and social sins disconnect us from God and our neighbor. They are leprosy.
Jesus not only cures the man of leprosy, but in doing so, he restores his relationship to the community and, in a certain sense, to God. The man is no longer outside of society or faith. He is, once again, connected, included, and welcomed. The man is made whole. We are made for love and are incomplete when we are isolated and cast out. Jesus came to restore our connectedness, or our communion in love, with God and each other. The Holy Spirit was sent to make us one.
Our discernment process with Archbishop Kurtz’s pastoral letter, Your Parish, The Body of Christ Alive in Our Midst, through our prayer, listening, and follow up discussions, identified three strategic themes for our parish community: Communication, Conversion, and Connection. Our decisions and goals in the coming years will reflect these themes.
As we begin the Lenten Season on Ash Wednesday, our theme for Lent will be Connect. What does it mean to connect? How do we do it? Am I connected to God, my parish community, the universal church, and the whole human family? Can I be an agent of connection for others? How do communion, solidarity, and love fit in? Am I whole? In addition to these articles and our homilies, we will also have a Lenten booklet with daily reflections written by parishioners and brief videos online.
Make this lent special. Let the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit guide you during these forty days. Set aside time to reflect more deeply on the scriptures. Pray. Go to confession. Connect. God can heal you and make you whole. Jesus does will it!