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02/11/18 Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time - Deacon Tony

Deacon Tony Conti

Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time 
Lectionary: 77

 

  • From our first reading we hear: “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.
  • How often do we condemn ourselves and declare ourselves unclean?
  • Sin is a reality of the world we live in…
  • But the real problems occur when we believe like the leper, that because we see ourselves as unclean, we must dwell apart from others and from the Church
  • It can reinforce the false belief that we somehow need to be worthy of God’s love…
  • The fact of the matter is that we’re all imperfect in many and varied ways
  • So you might ask – “Where’s the Good News of the Gospel?”
  • In today’s Gospel, the leper says to Jesus: “If you wish, you can make me clean...”
  • And Jesus responds: “I do will it. Be made clean.”
  • The Good News lies in the fact that Jesus sees through our faults and our shortcomings to who we really are, and who we have the potential to become… Jesus doesn’t see us as clean or unclean… He sees us as the Father’s Beloved
  • That’s the Good News that often gets distorted or forgotten when we allow our faith to be turned into a worthiness contest
  • We need to learn to accept the fact that we are accepted by God just as we are
  • Our goal this Lent should not be to try to change ourselves in order to save ourselves… our goal should be to learn to accept ourselves as God’s Beloved
  • To learn to allow God to enter more deeply into our daily lives…
  • Accepting ourselves as we are, with all of our faults and frailties is never intended to give us a license to sin
  • Because God sees our hearts… and it’s the intentions of our hearts that matters more to God than our actions
  • Our intentions in every endeavor of life must always be sincere and honorable… 
  • Peter denied Jesus three times…
  • Peter was an utter failure and a coward in the eyes of the world…
  • But Jesus saw his heart
  • In Peter’s heart, Jesus saw a frightened man who did the best he could under very difficult circumstances…
  • And what did Jesus do?
  • He asked Peter the same question three times: “Do you love Me?”
  • In the end… That’s all that mattered to Jesus…
  • Amid all of our failures, and all of our sins, and all of our our brokenness – Jesus asks each of us the same question: “Do you love Me?”
  • Our answer to that question is much more important to God than all of our failures, and all of our sins
  • We answer that question every day by the way we live our lives… By the decisions that we make… By how we treat others
  • When we find however, that our intentions were not as sincere or as honorable as they should have been… It’s a good sign that we’re in need of the Sacrament of reconciliation
  • Reconciliation is a wonderful sacrament designed to allow us to shed those feelings of inferiority and unworthiness, and regain our dignity as beloved sons and daughters of the Father…
  •  Reconciliation is not intended to be a sacrament of judgment, but rather a sacrament of healing
  • God doesn’t need to hear us profess our failings… God already knows them… It’s us who need to hear where we’ve missed the mark in life… Because that’s when the real healing begins…
  • That’s why it’s so important to take the time on a regular basis, and especially during Lent, to deeply examine our lives… and especially to examine our intentions
  • With Jesus - Everything begins and ends with love... Because only unconditional love has the transformative power to save us from ourselves...
  • But there’s a catch… We can only learn to love others, after we've first learned to accept God’s love for us...
    • You simply can't share what you don't have...
  • If we spend our lives in self condemnation, declaring ourselves unclean, and refusing to accept God’s love for us; how can we ever find the strength to love others?
  • Lent isn’t a time to sit in sackcloth and ashes to declare how wretched we are…
  • Lent is not intended to be a six week “downer…”
  • Lent is a time to reflect deeply upon who we really are... (and Whose we really are)…
  • Lent is a time to reflect upon the intentions of our hearts...
  • As we head out into the desert with Jesus this Lent, let's use this time wisely...
  • Let's make it a time of constructive renewal in our lives... Not beating ourselves up for what we may lack, and not declaring ourselves unclean…
  • Like all seasons of the Church – Let’s remember that Lent is about Love… God’s unconditional love for each of us…
  • I’ll close with a quote from Brennan Manning who wrote: “When Jesus asked Peter on the Tiberian seashore “Simon son of John, do you love Me?”  He added nothing else; what He said was enoughDo you love Me? Can you allow My love to touch you in your weakness, (to) set you free, and (to) empower you there?  Thereafter, the only power Peter had was Jesus’ love for him… When he proclaimed the Gospel of Grace, he preached from his weakness the power of God.  That is what converted the Roman world, and (that is) what will convert us, and the people around us, if they see that the love of Christ has touched us.” (The Ragamuffin Gospel; Pg. 211).

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