The Archbishop asked all the parishes in Atlanta to play his Annual Appeal video at Masses this weekend instead of our clergy preaching.
Father John had already completed his homily for this weekend and wanted to share it with you.
The theme of our readings today
is outreach to the outcast.
In both the Book of Leviticus and in the Gospel of Mark
the leper represents those who fail to measure up
to society’s standard of beauty, education and class.
The lepers represents those who are set apart or cut off
because we consider them flawed.
In order to allow these readings to speak to us,
we must identify the lepers in our own lives.
We all have marginalized people, made lepers of them.
What person or what group have we treated this way?
Perhaps our modern day lepers
are those who are not physically attractive,
those with weight issues, the mentally ill,
the alcoholic, the unmarried pregnant teen,
the homosexual, the homeless person,
the black sheep of the family
who is perceived as a failure and an embarrassment,
the one person of a different ethnic background or religion.
The list goes on and on, (2)
and we are all guilty of rejecting others,
of cutting them off from our acceptance and our support.
Once we recognize who the outcasts are in our lives.
we are ready to hear the challenge of Jesus
to reach out to those people.
Jesus makes it clear that He has come to save the lepers of the world.
He healed ten lepers,
He ate at table with sinners and tax collectors, prostitutes.
In the Parable of the lost sheep Jesus tells us
that God’s mercy is like that of the shepherd
who left the 99 sheep in the wilderness
and went in search of one stray sheep.
The lost sheep, like the lepers
are a symbol of the one who is cut off from the community,
alone and without resources
until someone reaches out.
We are meant to imitate Jesus in this outreach.
Christians are to bring healing and acceptance
to those whom society has rejected.
Our standard for acceptance is not (3)
society’s criteria of beauty, wealth, status.
Our standard as Catholic Christians
is the concern of Jesus for the poor,
the needy and the marginalized.
It is not the outcasts and sinners who offend Jesus,
it’s those who consider themselves better than others
and find excuses to ignore the needy.
Jesus is offended by those of us who use our status and privlige
to belittle and ignore others.
When I am willing to acknowledge
my rejection of others who are not like me,
only then can I begin to understand
the meaning of Jesus’ words
that He came not to call the just but sinners.
Then I will be ready to reach out to others
with the same love and acceptance
that Jesus offers to me.