11 February 2018 6th Sunday (B)
●Leviticus 13:1-2, 44-46 ● Psalm 32 ● ●1 Corinth 10:31 – 11:1 ● + Mark 1:40-45 ●
[__01__] SURVIVAL. 1858. By the time of the events at the LOURDES grotto – 160 years ago -- the family of Bernadette were in a dire financial and social situation. Their financial and social status had declined to the point where they lived in a one-room basement, formerly used as a jail, called le cachot, "the dungeon".
Bernadette had to go out to gather firewood. On February 11, 1858, Bernadette experienced the first vision of the Blessed Mother.
The details of Bernadette’s SURVIVAL and her status – or lack of status at the time – are significant to the history of the Lourdes apparitions of the Blessed Mother.
[__02__] This Sunday, we observe the memorial of Our Lady of Lourdes and the experience of Bernadette Soubirous – Saint Bernadette Soubirous – and experience that starts off the beaten track near her hometown in the Pyrenees – Pyrenee Mountains – of SW France.
It begins with survival. Bernadette is out gathering firewood when she sees a vision of someone she describes only as a beautiful lady. And, later when she asks for a name, Bernadette is told – in the vision – “I am the Immaculate Conception.”
Bernadette starts out as a SURIVIVOR.
[__03__] Our Christian journey is one that is not only about SURVIVING and SURVIVAL but also about --
SURVIVE. SUSTAIN. SANCTIFY.
[__04__] First, SURVIVAL. You and I know something about survival and the choices we make under difficult circumstances. In the Gospel of this Sunday, we read about the leper – the man with leprosy – whose survival and existence – up to this point depends on his ability to be obscure, to remain in hiding, to cover himself and thus avoid spreading his disease.
Survival = pain. (at times)
In what ways do you and I survive simply by hiding or withdrawing?
Suffering from addiction, we may go into the woods, literally or figuratively.
Suffering from an injury to our self confidence – or suffering from our own pride – we may also hide due to our obsession with the opinion of someone else. I may hide behind a superficial image of myself.
Our Christian journey, however, is not only about surviving, but also sustaining – even thriving.
[__05__] Second, SUSTAINING.
Our Savior desires that we would be sustained, nourished, fed. e.g., Prodigal Son; Woman at well.
Yes, Jesus sees our sinfulness – our brokenness – and asks us each day if we want to be forgiven. And, we can be forgiven – healed in the repentance of confession, penance, reconciliation.
Here, we go not to hide but to connect with God and his grace.
In the ashes of Ash Wednesday, we acknowledge our mortality, our need for God and not simply that we are surviving but also sustained.
[__06__] Third, SANCTIFIED.
To “sanctify” means to make holy, and while we are made good – and made in God’s image – we also are in need of God’s grace in order to turn toward s his grace and way each day.
Our journey of survival, and sustenance, is meant to allow us not to remain where we are, but to change, to be converted, to increase in holiness each day.
And, when Jesus heals the man with leprosy, he directs him, asks hims, to go to the Temple – or in our sense, the church -- to show yourself to the priests – to the whole community.
The church – whether the Basilica of Our Lady of Lourdes in France or here – to the west of France – in West Orange on Eagle Rock Avenue – we are restored, reconnected to God as well.
In other words, Jesus says – you have already shown yourself to me. Now, show yourself to the community, to others, your healing is also for them to see, to celebrate, to observe, and to receive encouragement.
To taste and see the goodness of God.
You come to church, so that others can see you, can witness your how we survive, how we are sustained. So that others can sustain us with their prayers.
So that you – and I – maybe sanctified, uncovered and connected to God in our covenant of love with God and neighbor.Our Lady of Lourdes Pray for Us. Notre Dame de Lourdes prie pour nous.