Sunday, 11 February 2018

Loving the ugly sick. 6th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B

Mk 1:40-45
Today I’d like us to think about the Lord’s attitude to the sick, and to us as sick, and our own attitude to the sick.
Our Gospel text today is the second week in a row that we have heard about the Lord’s attitude to those who are sick. In particular, this week, we heard about the Lord’s attitude to a leper.

Sickness is pretty disgusting.
When WE are sick then WE become pretty disgusting.
In fact, one of the children was recently describing her (or his…) symptoms in a recent cold, and it was gross, it was disgusting, it made the sweet little child seem much less sweet! And that was just a cold!
In contrast, our readings today speak not of someone suffering from a cold, but of a leper. A disease that can frequently make people unpleasant to look at, disfiguring the skin and worse.
And my point to you is this:
The Lord Jesus did not shy away from the leper, did not get repulsed by his leprosy. Rather, He continued to SEE the PERSON who was suffering; He continued to LOVE the person who was suffering.

This attitude of the Lord Jesus is also the attitude that history marks as characteristic of the followers of Jesus:
Wherever Christians have gone in the world, bringing the good news of evangelisation, what they have also brought is a care for the weak. To use the refrain of the Scriptures: the stranger, the widow and the orphan.
Those that the pre-Christian world left abandoned to die were rescued by the early Christians.
Ancient Romans would leave unwanted babies to die on the hillside -but the early Christians rescued them and gave them homes.
In our own era, we can think of Mother Teresa spreading the Gospel by caring for those people in Calcutta that others had deemed to be ‘untouchable’. But none are untouchable to God; none are beyond His care and love.
Wherever the missionary orders of the Church have gone they have taken not only words but a life -they brought hospitals and basic humanitarian care. Still, today, the predominant work of most missionary orders, where most of the money we donate goes, is spent on care like hospitals.
Christ looked at the sick and ugly and loved them, and those who follow Christ do the same.

Today, however, we live in a post-Christian society, not a Christian one.
The post-Christian society values beauty, glamour, wealth, and youth.
Being old, being sick, being ugly -our culture does not value such people, does not hold them up as models, or, as people to be loved.

What about us?
When we look in the mirror, what do we value?
Do we think we only have value in as much as we have or continue to have beauty, youth, and health?
The Lord Jesus could look at a leper and love him.
Can you look at our own ugliness and still see someone loveable?
Or, Have you reduced yourself, and others, to those things that are actually least important?
Do you just value in yourself those things that pass, that, as the Lord said, like the beauty of the fields that is here today but gone and thrown in the fire tomorrow?(Mt 6:30)

If the Lord could love an ugly diseased leper, then, there must be something in us that is loveable that is NOT the passing glamour of this world.
God made you with great dignity, in His own image and likeness.
You are loved. You are loveable. Is this how we see ourselves and others?

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