I spent eight years in active ministry as a hospital Chaplain. I must say, looking back to those days, the experiences from that ministry have come as a handy tool during these days of the coronavirus pandemic. As it was the case, I have had the displeasure of answering to calls for a visit to a Covid patient. Each time as I walk in, what remains noticeable as I minister to them is the loneliness in the room and the pain of isolation of the time. I call it a displeasure on account of the fact that those are visit that I go into with extraordinary caution, given the fact that I will carefully be fit into one of the prescribed kits in order to safely make a visit. For one thing, even though there are not much choices in this regard, I have usually found them alone in their hospital rooms, with the noticeable and dedicated medical staff offering literally everything they have in order to do the best for them. On my part, one of my frustrations is the fact that I spend a lot of time preparing to go into those visits that would usually last for a short time, which should have been other way around, I mean, spending rather a lot of time with the patient would have been my preference.
I have some scenarios like these ringing through in my head as I read and reflect on the story of the cure of a leper which is going to be the gospel for this Sunday liturgy. I have imagined and without making much out of my imagination, of what the loneliness of lepers would be like in those days. We know from reading the book of Leviticus that, there are lots of cultural, social and religious regulations aimed at what was very important to them in terms of their view that what it means to be holy and righteous before God has a lot to do with the quality of one’s relationship with family and community. So, when there is an appearance of a skin disease, some boundaries were set in order to preserve the health and well being of the community and these were the boundaries that our Lord Jesus had to overcome in order to perform this very lovely miracle. It is interesting as I keep reading that our Lord responded to the need without wasting time on arguments about the cultural, social and religious reasons behind those barriers. Even after the cure which I think was possible because of the care that Our Lord gave to him, he cared for his social health that he he told him to further show himself to a Priest and offer the prescribed sacrifices in order to further his social rehabilitation.
I think that looking around today, we are in a certain sense called not just to visit people when they are sick in order to bring them a cure, but we are even more encouraged through imitation of Jesus to care even beyond the physical well-being, but as well and most importantly to the social health and rehabilitation of our very ailing times. I think that the real leprosy of our time is the sickness of the boundaries we have erected by our endless and fruitless argumentations over things we could have otherwise resolved with the love of God in our hearts, and the barriers we have created between ourselves and God by our sins. Hopefully, whenever we play our role forthrightly, we can rekindle and inspire a lot of hope in our world, we can also create a path full of respect and pride for all to walk on. Our Lord Jesus with love and mercy in his heart says, “I do will it”. What is going to be your own response?
Fr. Louis Chijioke
This weekend, January 30-31, is commitment Weekend which is an opportunity to help the Catholic Diocese of Dallas raise necessary funds through the Bishop’s Annual Appeal. Each year, we commit ourselves to reflect on God’s great generosity and respond with a gift of our own that helps bring others into a relationship with Jesus Christ and His Church. Commitment forms will be available at Mass (vestibule area) and also in the box outside of the parish office.
If you were not able to fill out a pledge card during Mass, please bring it to Mass next week and place in the collection basket, or visit us online for more information and to make a donation:
Dallas Bishops Appeal
Ash Wednesday Schedule
All Masses will be in the Church
Noon Imposition of Ashes Only (English)
6pm Mass in English
7pm Mass in Spanish