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Gospel Reflection – 6th Sunday of the Year

Dear sisters and brothers,

This time last year we didn’t know how our lives would change so dramatically.  Ash Wednesday was ten days later than this year, but still it was around the same time.  We planned, as we always do for Lent.  We were going to sacrifice certain things; we were going to commit to new, positive, faith filled actions; we would attend the Stations of the Cross; we would go to Lenten talks to help us ponder God’s word more.  We started all these things, and then three weeks in it all appeared to come to a grinding halt.  The talks stopped; the Stations of the Cross stopped; our ability to undertake those new, positive, faith filled actions became more limited; but hopefully our Lenten sacrifices were able to continue.  Even going to Mass stopped!

But maybe that’s too simplistic.  Rather than things stopping, they changed, just as every day life changed, and we were able to do something new in a different way to the way that we’d envisaged.  And we all learnt to spiritually engage with our faith life in other ways.  People told me how they’d been to Mass all over the world through the wonder of the internet.  Many of you went to devotions, like the Stations of the Cross online, and even started up your own groups to continue to pray together.  And those of you without internet access prayed each day with the readings of the Mass through your missals and prayer books.  Maybe, with the usual rhythm and tools for prayer, that we normally rely on, Lent in 2020 became even more profound as we recognised our need of God, and sought to connect with him despite the limitations that life through at us.

And maybe this year will be different again.  We’ve adapted in many ways to the change in circumstances, and we’ve learnt how to build our ever-deepening relationship with the Lord despite what life may throw at us.  Lent remains for us a retreat in everyday life, a time to take stock of whether our relationship with Jesus is as good as it could be – which sadly it probably never is – and to seek to strengthen it, to ensure that he is the foundation in our life.

Our readings today are a helpful reminder for us.  As the vivid description of leprosy in our first reading reminds us, while we may not have that horrible disease ourselves, in some way we are all spiritual lepers, with our ‘swelling’ of pride or our ‘scab’ of defensiveness…or whatever our particular weaknesses may be.  And as with the leper of the Gospel, Jesus says to each of us: “of course I want to” cure you!!! All he needs of us to allow this to happen is the humility to recognise our sin, our need of him, our need of spiritual healing, and he will do it.  He will act!

So, as we prepare for Lent 2021, let’s plan how to use the season wisely, drawing closer to our loving  Lord in our prayer, fasting and almsgiving.  And let’s come before him in humility, asking him to bring the healing that we need to our brokenness.  “Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, we place our trust in you.”

With every blessing,

Simon