Fr. Brian Zumbrum’s homilies and reflections are posted weekly at Leaven in the World. To see the archive of all his posts, just click here: Salesian Sermons
6th Sunday of Ordinary Time | February 14/15, 2015
This homily was written for a Mass at DeSales University, a medium-sized, private, four-year Catholic university with a Salesian mission administered by the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales in Center Valley, Pennsylvania.
PROTIP: Before reading on, be sure to take a look at the readings here. This homily is based on the first and Gospel readings.
I have to admit, whenever I hear this reading about the leper, I can’t help but think back to those own moments in my life in which I felt cast out from the faith community that I loved.
See, my journey through Catholicism has not always been smooth sailing. I have had years of doubt, in which I questioned whether God was real. I have made my mistakes. I have struggled with whether or not I was good enough for this life.
And yet, Catholicism has always been my home. It is where I was raised. It is where I encountered God and fell in love with my vocation.
And I have come to believe over the years that I am exactly where God wants me to be.
And yet, I have also sadly realized that not everyone agrees with me.
See I have committed several cardinal sins over the years in the eyes of those tasked with defending the Catholic faith from all those who threaten to tarnish its image.
One, I have often befriended those who do not meet with their stamp of approval.
Friends who drink too much on the weekends and sleep around.
Friends who fall in love with the wrong gender.
Friends who question their faith and their Church.
Friends who vote for the wrong political party, champion the wrong causes, or believe the wrong things.
And two, I am frankly not manly enough to be a good Catholic, much less a priest.
And so, I have often been informed in no uncertain terms that I am not good enough.
Not good enough to be a part of this Church.
Not good enough to serve as a priest in this Church.
And it is in these moments, my friends, that I begin to understand what it is like to be a leper.
To be cast out from the place where you belong, where you find God.
To be shunned by those who had once professed their love for you.
To no longer know who you are or where you fit in this world.
I believe if we are honest with ourselves, we have all had our bouts with leprosy.
Some of you have faced the wrath of those who have judged you for who you are or what you have done. You sit here in this space and question whether or not you belong. Whether or not, they are right.
But most of us have done this to ourselves. We have convinced ourselves that somehow we don’t belong.
We know our shameful secrets
We know our persistent doubts.
We know our mistakes and our brokenness.
We find ourselves questioning how we could ever stand in the presence of the holy one when our lives are such a mess. We question how God could ever want us as we are.
Maybe that is why the leper of today’s Gospel is my hero.
Because he dares to approach Christ in the hopes that he will be made clean.
And Christ chooses to respond with the healing that he seeks.
Christ does not question how he got there.
Christ does not demand repentance prior to his decision to heal him.
He simply wills that the leper be made clean. That he be restored to the community. That he resume his place at the table.
And therein my friends lies the Good News. That Christ continues to will that we be made clean.
He does not demand that we arrive in this space whole or holy. He does not demand that we have all the answers.
Instead he invites us in as we are and then begins the work of mending our brokenness, of forgiving our sinfulness, of restoring our faith, of leading us down the path prepared for us.
And then he too sends us out to show ourselves to a world in need of our witness.
To reveal our God who forgives by forgiving one another.
To reveal our God of compassion by walking beside those who are struggling.
To reveal our God of new beginnings by inviting others to experience the welcome that all should find in this space.
To reveal our God of love by loving each person we encounter, without preconditions or expectations. Without judgment or fear.
We are the Church my friends.
We are the Body of Christ.
May we live our lives to reflect the one who calls us, the one who heals us, the one who loves us till the end.
May God be Praised