Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)
February 11, 2024
Fr. John Colacino C.PP.S.








O God, who teach us that you abide
in hearts that are just and true,
grant that we may be so fashioned by your grace
as to become a dwelling pleasing to you.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God, for ever and ever.

First Reading Lv 13:1-2,44-46

The Lord said to Moses and Aaron,
“If someone has on his skin a scab or pustule or blotch
which appears to be the sore of leprosy,
he shall be brought to Aaron, the priest,
or to one of the priests among his descendants.
If the man is leprous and unclean,
the priest shall declare him unclean
by reason of the sore on his head.

“The one who bears the sore of leprosy
shall keep his garments rent and his head bare,
and shall muffle his beard;
he shall cry out, ‘Unclean, unclean!’
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.”

Responsorial Psalm Ps 32:1-2,5,11

R/. I turn to you, Lord, in time of trouble, and you fill me with the joy of salvation.

Second Reading 1 Cor 10:31-11:1

Brothers and sisters,
Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do,
do everything for the glory of God.
Avoid giving offense, whether to the Jews or Greeks or
the church of God,
just as I try to please everyone in every way,
not seeking my own benefit but that of the many,
that they may be saved.
Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.

Alleluia Lk 7:16

Gospel Mk 1:40-45

A leper came to Jesus and kneeling down begged him and said,
“If you wish, you can make me clean.”
Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand,
touched him, and said to him,
“I do will it. Be made clean.”
The leprosy left him immediately, and he was made clean.
Then, warning him sternly, he dismissed him at once.

He said to him, “See that you tell no one anything,
but go, show yourself to the priest
and offer for your cleansing what Moses prescribed;
that will be proof for them.”

The man went away and began to publicize the whole matter.
He spread the report abroad
so that it was impossible for Jesus to enter a town openly.
He remained outside in deserted places,
and people kept coming to him from everywhere.

Catena Nova

[For Shrove Tuesday]: These last days before Ash Wednesday are the climax of Carnival. In the Catholic countries where Lent afterwards would be taken seriously, work was stopped. People made merry practically day and night…. The last day of Carnival is "Mardi Gras" or  "Fat Tuesday." This should be a big celebration, if possible of the whole parish together, or a circle of friends, and everything which one did during the previous weeks should be done just once more…. It has to be experienced to be fully believed, but there is a great blessing on such a Carnival time, shared in a family. To have spent a good Carnival will finally prove to the greater honor and glory of God, in enabling us to spend a good Lent! (Maria von Trapp).

The purpose of Pre-Lent is to condition ourselves for the proper observance of Lent, since every good work needs due preparation. During the few days left before Ash Wednesday we should arrive at a definite answer to the serious question, “How am I going to keep Lent this year?”…. Perhaps a word of caution is needed here: do not undertake too much lest you find it impossible to continue after a brief but over-zealous beginning…. Therefore, not too much; but some specific resolutions whereby this Lent will be different from previous years are necessary (Fr. Pius Parsch).
This leper is an excellent teacher of the right way to make petitions He did not doubt the Lord’s willingness through disbelief in his compassion, but neither did he take it for granted, for he knew the depths of his own sinfulness. Yet because he acknowledged that the Lord was able to cleanse him if he wished, we praise this declaration of firm faith just as we praise the Lord’s mighty power. For obtaining a favor from God rightly depends as much on having a real living faith as on the exercise of the Creator’s power and mercy....A faith shown to be living by its love, steadfast by its perseverance, patient by its endurance of delay, humble by its confession, strong by its confidence, reverent by its way of presenting petitions, and discerning with regard to their content—such a faith may be certain that in every place it will hear the Lord saying: “I do want to” (Paschasius Radbertus).
The greatest disease in the West today is not tuberculosis or leprosy; it is being unwanted, unloved, and uncared for. We can cure physical diseases with medicine, but the only cure for loneliness, despair, and hopelessness is love. There are many in the world who are dying for a piece of bread but there are many more dying for a little love. The poverty in the West is a different kind of poverty -- it is not only a poverty of loneliness but also of spirituality. There's a hunger for love, as there is a hunger for God (St. Teresa of Calcutta).

To be rooted is perhaps the most important and least recognized need of the human soul. It is one of the hardest to define. A human being has roots by virtue of his real, active, and natural participation in the life of a community which preserves in living shape certain particular treasures of the past and certain particular expectations for the future. This participation is a natural one, in the sense that it is automatically brought about by place, conditions of birth, professional and social surroundings. Every human being needs to have multiple roots. It is necessary for him to draw well-nigh the whole of his moral, intellectual and spiritual life by way of the environment of which he forms a natural part (Simone Weil).
There are few people who have never felt rejected or excluded and so are unable to feel compassion for those who do. Many have felt struck by God on account of some secret sin. Few of us have not condemned ourselves for our inability to get rid of some vice or bad habit. We can’t look at ourselves as free of defects and so feel distanced from our God. Yet God is close to us; in Jesus God is one of us. So, the Gospel tells us to go to Jesus and humbly ask him to touch and heal us. We may not even know what needs to be healed but we know we can find what we need in Jesus. We need only believe that he can heal if he wills, and so we must go and ask him to touch us and heal us. It is faith that will save us. (Pope St. Paul VI)


No one ever came to our dear Lord without knowing that here was someone to whom he or she mattered, who would gladly die on their behalf—and I think that is what we must ask him to achieve in us (Sr. Wendy Beckett).


     While I am under no illusions about the Covid-19 pandemic being "over," I also realize that the protocols we were all required to observe — masking and social distancing among them — created and, for some people suffering the long-term effects of the virus still create, an almost leper-like condition, one where we were afraid to approach others, mandated even to avoid close contact, and of course have others approach us.  We might as well have cried out Unclean, unclean! like the lepers of old as we were all condemned to dwell apart from each other.

     There is a growing consensus, moreover, that the social isolation from those years has been responsible for the mental health crisis we are having and possibly the large number of excess deaths which are being reported all over the world beyond what would historically be expected in a given timeframe and which seem to be especially cardiac related.  All of which makes the healing story in today's gospel something we can more readily identify with than ever before.  Apart from the horrors of Hansen's disease itself, the isolation imposed on people, past and present, out of fear of contagion compounded victims' suffering all the more.  Human beings wither and may well die when cut off from others.  

       So the story of Jesus cleansing a leper has become our story too.  Whether we suffered from the literal effects of the virus, or the emotional, psychological and social ones, we were all relegated to living apart, outside the camp (I).  And we all needed a healing touch from someone who wasn’t driven by fear.

       The story of the leper, however, ends with something even more shocking than Jesus’ willingness to transgress the “protocols” of how to deal with a leper.  The penalties for endangering the health of the community by allowing a leper close enough to touch would risk Jesus’ own life and standing in the community.  And that’s precisely what happened.  By the end of the story, he’s the one found living “outside the camp” in deserted places (G).

       Which, let’s face it, is where the gospel often invites us to dwell -- leaving the safety zones where people and places familiar to us are absent and we meet folk with whom we may have little in common, except our humanity.  The gospel calls us to stretch a bit, and touch people we might otherwise avoid, our own “lepers” whom we might think of as disgraced, as lepers in Israel were.  Look at most any prophet in the Scriptures and see if they wanted to go where the Lord would send them.  Remember poor Jonah from a few weeks back who despised the Ninevites and wanted nothing to do with them?

     So also for us, as we keep our distance from the racial or ethnic “other,” the religious “other,” the sexual “other,” the socio-economic “other,” the political “other” — and yes, often enough, the "inner" other, for we can be “other” to our very selves when we keep parts of us distant and far-off, which nevertheless cry out for inclusion.

     And like Jonah once you go to the place where “the other” dwells, and you're feeling rather "deserted",  you can never really go back again.  Meeting up with “the other” is likely to make you seem “out of place” to those you leave behind.  Such risky business can make you appear strange, even dangerous, to those who are still "at home."  You may be unable to fit in anymore because the "others" changed you.  Indeed, you might be "deserted" in ways you could not have imagined.   

       Oh, it’s true, for a while the people kept coming to Jesus from everywhere (G), but we know that living in close quarters with the “other” would lead him to die, as Hebrews puts it, outside the camp (cf. Hb.13:11) – in a place of rejection and shame, outside the gates of Jerusalem and all they represented. 

       Yet, the “other” is the key to wholeness and completion — as the early church learned — which had to welcome Gentiles as well as Jews, in order to become the church of God (II).  And the apostle of the Gentiles, St. Paul, knew very well that to embrace the “other,” one must follow Jesus “outside the camp.”  He too left Jerusalem behind and went in search of people like the Corinthians whom many of his fellow Jews thought unclean, and he suffered reproach on account of it, both from within and without the church.  So when he admonished us to be imitators of [him], as [he] is of Christ (II), Paul anticipated the author of Hebrews who exhorted all of us: Go to Jesus outside the camp, bearing the reproach he bore in the place where he suffered to consecrate the people by his own blood (cf. Hb.13:12-13).

     So as we consecrate the blessing-cup of Christ’s blood,  with all the Mystery it contains, perhaps this is the most difficult thing to grasp: how voluntary exclusion from our Jerusalems -- all our comfort zones we would like to make "lasting cities" but which can never be so — how leaving these behind may well bring us to a place of redemption. For “outside the camp” is where the new age of God’s Reign dawns.  Who lives and reigns, forever and ever.  Amen.


Intercessions (Joe Milner; The Sunday Website)

For the Church: that we may reach out to all who have been excluded or marginalized by our society and offer acceptance and inclusion in our community.

For unity in the human family: that God will awaken within us a spirit of fraternity and help us to cooperate with all peoples, races, and faith traditions in combating disease, poverty, and injustice.

For all who feel socially isolated: that those who have been ridiculed, laughed at, or bullied, may have their dignity as persons recognized and be welcomed into this faith community.

For openness to the Spirit: that we may be attentive to the invitations of God to grow and change during the coming Lenten season.

For all who are suffering: that God will assist and guide to fulfillment all who are searching for jobs, a place to call home, food for their table, or healthcare.

For greater stewardship of earth’s resources: that God will help us understand the value of all living things and the wisdom to protect them for future generations.

For peace: that God will inspire world leaders to take bold steps to end violence and promote justice through dialogue and understanding.

We come before you, O God, confident in Christ’s victory over sickness and death. Heal us again  from sin, which divides us, and from prejudice, which isolates us. Bring us to wholeness of life  through the pardon you grant your people .We ask this through Christ o ur Lord.  Amen.

Offertory Antiphon

Offerory Hymn


Be still, for the presence of the Lord, The Holy One, is here.
Come bow before him now, with reverence and fear.
In him no sin is found, we stand on holy ground.
Be still for the presence of the Lord, The Holy One, is here.

Be still for the glory of the Lord is shining all around.
He burns with holy fire, with splendor he is crowned.
How awesome is the sight, our radiant King of light!
Be still for the glory of the Lord is shining all around

Be still for the power of the Lord is moving in this place.
He comes to cleanse and heal, to minister his grace.
No work too hard for him, in faith, receive from him.
Be still for the power of the Lord is moving in this place.

Communion Antiphon


Closing Hymn (Leonard Cohen)