Monday, February 5, 2018

Healing the Leper - Feb. 11, 2018

The Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time  -  Year B

Reading I:
Leviticus 13:1-2, 44-46

Psalm:  32

Reading II:  1 Corinthians 10:31-11:1

Gospel:  Mark 1:40-45

When we think of the plight of the lepers,  we also think of heroes and heroines who imitated the Lord and reached out to these human beings who were so mercilessly abandoned and treated in the past. In particular, we remember Fr. Damien who gave himself to the care of these lepers, risking the fact that he could himself become a leper by contacting them. Indeed, he did become a leper and is now referred to as Fr. Damien, the leper.

Less known is the recently canonized St. Marianne Cope, a German-born American and a member of the Sisters of St. Francis of Syracuse, New York. She and her family were immigrants back in 1839. When her father became naturalized, as was the custom, the whole family would also become citizens.

Sr. Marianne began as a teacher and then principal in the newly established schools for German-speaking immigrants. Later, she helped found the first two Catholic hospitals in the area. Then, she was put in charge of St. Joseph Hospital, the first public hospital in Syracuse.

After being installed as Superior General of her congregation, St. Marianne received a plea from King Kalakaua of Hawaii for help to care for people with leprosy. Not only did she respond enthusiastically, but she also chose to join six other Sisters to manage Kaka’ako Branch Hospital on O’ahu which served as a receiving station for Hansen’s disease patients. The more severe cases were processed and shipped to the island of Molokai.

Not only did the Sisters care for the lepers themselves, but they also established homes for the homeless female children of lepers. The homes were on the same grounds as the hospital because the Sisters were the only ones willing to care for the children. Mr. Henry Baldwin, a prominent local businessman, gave money for building a school which was named after him.

While Fr. Damien was dying, Sr. Marianne cared for him, taking on some of his works. When Fr. Damien died, the government gave her charge of the homeless boys of the lepers. She enlisted the Brothers of the Sacred Heart to take over the care of the boys.

Unlike Fr. Damien, Sr. Marianne never contracted leprosy, rather she died of natural causes. However, she willingly gave herself fully to the care of these suffering children of God, risking her own life on their behalf.

When we look at Saints, we are touched by their heroic lives. However, what is even more important is the realization that we are observing just a small glimpse of what our God is like.  If this is but the servant, what must the Master be?!!!

  Reflection Question:   What do you see as the value in studying about
the Saints?

Spanish Translation of Reflection Above...

Sanando al leproso

Cuando pensamos en la difícil situación de los leprosos, también pensamos en héroes y heroínas que imitaron al Señor y se acercaron a estos seres humanos que fueron tan despiadadamente abandonados y tratados en el pasado. En particular, recordamos al padre. Damien, que se entregó al cuidado de estos leprosos, arriesgándose a que él mismo se convirtiera en leproso al contactarlos. De hecho, se convirtió en un leproso y ahora se lo conoce como el Padre. Damien, el leproso.
Menos conocida es la recientemente canonizada St. Marianne Cope, una estadounidense de origen alemán y miembro de las Hermanas de San Francisco de Siracusa, Nueva York. Ella y su familia eran inmigrantes en 1839. Cuando su padre se naturalizó, como era la costumbre, toda la familia también se convertiría en ciudadana.

La Hermana Marianne comenzó como maestra y luego directora en las
escuelas recientemente establecidas para inmigrantes de habla alemana.
Más tarde, ella ayudó a fundar los primeros dos hospitales católicos en el área. Luego, ella fue puesta a cargo del Hospital St. Joseph, el primer hospital público en Syracuse.

Luego de ser instalada como Superiora General de su congregación, St. Marianne recibió una súplica del Rey Kalakaua de Hawai para que la ayuden a cuidar a las personas con lepra. No solo respondió con entusiasmo, sino que también eligió unirse a otras seis Hermanas para administrar el Hospital de la Rama de Kaka'ako en O'ahu, que servía como estación receptora para pacientes con la enfermedad de Hansen. Los casos más severos fueron procesados y enviados
a la isla de Molokai.

Las Hermanas no solo cuidaron a los leprosos, sino que también establecieron hogares para las niñas sin hogar de los leprosos. Las casas estaban en los mismos terrenos que el hospital porque las Hermanas eran las únicas dispuestas a cuidar a los niños. El Sr. Henry Baldwin, un prominente empresario local, dio dinero para construir una escuela que lleva su nombre.

Mientras el padre Damien se estaba muriendo, la Hermana Marianne se preocupaba por él y se encargaba de algunas de sus obras. Cuando el padre Damien murió, el gobierno le dio el cargo de los niños sin hogar de los leprosos. Ella alistó a los Hermanos del Sagrado Corazón para hacerse cargo del cuidado de los niños.

A diferencia del Padre. Damien, Hna. Marianne nunca contrajo lepra, sino que murió por causas naturales. Sin embargo, voluntariamente se entregó por completo al cuidado de estos hijos sufridos de Dios, arriesgando su propia vida
en su beneficio.

Cuando miramos a los Santos, nos conmueve su vida heroica. Sin embargo, lo que es aún más importante es la comprensión de que estamos observando solo un pequeño vistazo de cómo es nuestro Dios. Si esto no es más que el servidor, ¿qué debe ser el Maestro ?!

  Pregunta de reflexión:   ¿Cuál ves como el valor de estudiar sobre
los Santos?


  1. This gospel story always leads me to the same question. “Why in the world did the cleansed leper blatantly disobey Jesus’ command? “ Jesus gave him very specific instructions - to tell no one and to go show himself to the priest. Mark doesn’t let us know if the leper made it to the priest, but he does let us know that the leper told everybody he met about what occurred. So, of course, I ask myself what I would have done if I were the leper. Chances are I may have reacted similarly out of the incredible joy of being healed. After all, the leper had been an outcast and now was in a healthy physical state to re-enter the community. I could picture myself dancing in delight down the street shouting, “Look at me, I’m clean!” However, in the leper’s enthusiasm, no matter how understandable to our human minds, he disobeyed Our Lord and it had significant consequences for Jesus’s ministry. Jesus’ primary purpose in his ministry at that time was to preach. News of the miracle would draw people looking for healing, not for hearing Jesus’ message. Thus, Jesus had to move his ministry out of the city and into desert regions.
    What I love about this story is the beautiful dynamic of faith between the leper and Jesus. The late Pastor Ray Stedman had some very interesting observations on this passage ( that are worth sharing. He believes that the leper may have had a degree of awareness that there was a divine purpose in his affliction. Thus he asked Jesus, “If you will, you can make me clean.” Stedman suggests that the leper meant, “If it is not out of line with the purpose of God, then you can make me clean.”
    “The leper does not doubt Jesus’ power, and he submits to Jesus’ will. The leper models a humble approach and makes a humble request. This is actually the language of worship …Jesus accepts it.” Moved with compassion Jesus says, “I am willing, be cleansed.” He then reached out his hand and touched the leper. What a powerful moment that must have been for the diseased man. Yet, Jesus made but one request and the cleansed leper was disobedient to his Healer. It would be wrong for me to criticize the leper because I have likewise humbly asked for and received healings, given thanks and then went my way and disobeyed God’s commands. I hope that my wrongful ways did not hinder Jesus’ plan that He intended to work through me; it is truly my desire to be a channel of His love and Divine purpose.
    Jesus touched the leper, yet avoiding lepers was the norm. You share Fr. Damien’s ministry in which he lived amongst the lepers and contracted leprosy himself. I had not heard of St. Marianne Cope and I am humbled to read her self-less story of service. In his book, “Catholicism,” Robert Barron notes that “Saints are those who have allowed Jesus thoroughly to transfigure them from within.” As St. Paul put it, “Yet I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me.” “The Saints cooperated with grace and allowed Christ to live his life in them. “ Barron devoted a chapter of his book to the Communion of Saints and examines the lives of four relatively contemporary women: Katherine Drexel, Therese of Lisieux, Edith Stein, and Mother Teresa of Calcutta. “St. Katharine Drexel modeled what justice looks like when it is invaded by love. Therese of Lisieux demonstrates what ordinary prudence looks like when radicalized with Christ. Edith Stein is an icon of evangelical courage, and Mother Teresa embodies the power of poverty when placed in the service of Jesus. Each reveals a unique dimension of divine holiness.”
    The value of studying the lives of the saints is that I get to see the many expressions of Christ in their compassionate works which inspires me to step out of my comfort zone and serve others. Pat C., ASBS

  2. Sr. Therese M. Warner, SBSFebruary 6, 2018 at 9:04 AM

    Yes, those remarkable saints who dedicated their lives so unselfishly to the sick certainly "imitated the Lord"! They must have been very close to Him, even in this world.

    Scripture indicates clearly that God is deeply concerned about human illness. In the Old Testament, we note His promise to His people - " 'I will restore you to health; of your wounds I will heal you.', says the Lord." (Jeremiah 30:17). In the New Testament, we are informed that "Jesus went around to all the towns and villages... curing every disease and illness." (Matthew 9:35}

    The following excerpts are from a homily prepared by the Catholic Health Association:

    "Most of us will never be, or even meet, a leper. We will, however, meet many people who suffer, not only from physical illness, but also from unfounded societal constrictions and exclusions that have sickened them. We will meet people with mental challenges and addictions and alienating illnesses that make it hard for people to be with them."

    "What does the Gospel say to us today? Let us listen to Jesus' response to the leper's plea. He says, 'I do will to make you clean.' Jesus wants us to enjoy the sacred wholeness that comes from God's touch in our life. This is a wholeness that endures despite illness and suffering. It is rooted in hope, joy and confidence that we already possess eternal life through the death and resurrection of Christ. This wholeness is a grace beyond law, a profound healing which transcends 'cure'."

    "On this World Day of the Sick, let us pray for all who suffer mental or physical illness, for caregivers, clinicians, families and friends who accompany them. Let us pray especially for those who have no community to support them; for those who suffer and die alone. Let us pray that our own hearts will be steeped in compassion and moved to assist the sick whom we have the means to touch. Let us ask for the willingness of Christ to inspire and sustain us all."