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Contemplating today's Gospel

Today's Gospel + homily (in 300 words)

Friday 12th in Ordinary Time

1st Reading (2Kgs 25:1-12): In the tenth month of the ninth year of Zedekiah’s reign, on the tenth day of the month, Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, and his whole army advanced against Jerusalem, encamped around it, and built siege walls on every side. The siege of the city continued until the eleventh year of Zedekiah. On the ninth day of the fourth month, when famine had gripped the city, and the people had no more bread, the city walls were breached. Then the king and all the soldiers left the city by night through the gate between the two walls that was near the king’s garden. Since the Chaldeans had the city surrounded, they went in the direction of the Arabah.

But the Chaldean army pursued the king and overtook him in the desert near Jericho, abandoned by his whole army. The king was therefore arrested and brought to Riblah to the king of Babylon, who pronounced sentence on him. He had Zedekiah’s sons slain before his eyes. Then he blinded Zedekiah, bound him with fetters, and had him brought to Babylon.

On the seventh day of the fifth month (this was in the nineteenth year of Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon), Nebuzaradan, captain of the bodyguard, came to Jerusalem as the representative of the king of Babylon. He burned the house of the Lord, the palace of the king, and all the houses of Jerusalem; every large building was destroyed by fire. Then the Chaldean troops who were with the captain of the guard tore down the walls that surrounded Jerusalem. Then Nebuzaradan, captain of the guard, led into exile the last of the people remaining in the city, and those who had deserted to the king of Babylon, and the last of the artisans. But some of the country’s poor, Nebuzaradan, captain of the guard, left behind as vinedressers and farmers.
Responsorial Psalm: 136
R/. Let my tongue be silenced, if I ever forget you!
By the streams of Babylon we sat and wept when we remembered Zion. On the aspens of that land we hung up our harps.

Though there our captors asked of us the lyrics of our songs, and our despoilers urged us to be joyous: «Sing for us the songs of Zion!».

How could we sing a song of the Lord in a foreign land? If I forget you, Jerusalem, may my right hand be forgotten!

May my tongue cleave to my palate if I remember you not, If I place not Jerusalem ahead of my joy.
Versicle before the Gospel (Mt 8:17): Alleluia. Christ took away our infirmities and bore our diseases. Alleluia.
Gospel text (Mt 8,1-4): When Jesus came down from the mountain, large crowds followed him. Then a leper came forward. He knelt before him and said, «Sir, if you want to, you can make me clean». Jesus stretched out his hand, touched him, and said, «I want to, be clean again». At that very moment the man was cleansed from his leprosy. Then Jesus said to him, «See that you do not tell anyone, but go to the priest, have yourself declared clean, and offer the gift that Moses ordered as proof of it».

«If you want to, you can make me clean»

Fr. Xavier ROMERO i Galdeano (Cervera, Lleida, Spain)

Today, the Gospel shows us a leper, painfully conscious of his sickness, approaching Jesus and beseeching: «Sir, if you want to, you can make me clean» (Mt 8:2). When we see the Lord so close to us but our head, heart and hands so far away from his project, from their salvation, we should also feel the compulsion to formulate the same leper's expression: «Sir, if you want to, you can make me clean».

But an important question prevails: Can a sin-unconscious society beg forgiveness from our Lord? Can it beseech a purification of any kind? We all know too many people with aching and wounded hearts, their personal drama, however, being they do not always realize the extent of their situation. But, in spite of everything, Jesus is always close to us, to the very end of the age (cf. Mt 28:20), while waiting for the same petition: «Sir, if you want to...». But, our collaboration is, of course, needed. St. Augustine's sentence: «God who created you without you, will not save you without you» has become a classical one. So that we can truly change we must strive to ask our Lord for help.

Some might wonder: why is it so important to realize it, to convert and to wish to change? For the simple reason that, should we not feel like that, we should not be able to positively answer the previous question, where we said a sin-unconscious society will find it very difficult to ask the Lord for help.

This is why, when the moments of repentance and of Sacramental confession arrive, we have to get rid of the past, of all the ulcers infecting our body and our soul. We should not doubt it for a minute: Asking forgiveness is a great moment of Christian initiation, because it is when the bandage over our eyes comes off. But, what if someone does notice his situation but does not want to convert? There is an old proverb that goes: «Long absent, soon forgotten».

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