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Dear brothers and sisters,
Having heard of Jesus’ power and authority in the previous episodes, this Sunday we will hear of Him touching and healing a leper. This unthinkable act (because the Law forbids one to come in contact with the impure) shows that He indeed is the “Holy One of God,” who reaches out to the impure and heals the impurity. The demon was right after all when he recognized Jesus (Mk. 1:24).
In Her message (given on her Feast in Lourdes which we celebrate this Sunday), Our Lady points to Her Son Jesus as the “rock” from where the purest water gushes forth. She showed this to Bernadette in Lourdes. We will read Message 538: “Wash Yourselves at the Fountain,” taken from the book “To the Priests Our Lady’s Beloved Sons.”
I. GOSPEL READING (Mark 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.
Points for Reflection
Though in terrible need, the leper did not demand but simply made a request: “If you wish.” He knew his predicament very well. Leprosy made him ritually unclean and unable to participate in the life of the community. This required him to live apart from it, as it was likewise forbidden to come in contact with him. But, having heard about Jesus who taught with authority, cast out demons, and cured the sick, he was convinced that He could do this - to make him clean, and thus enable him to join the community, especially in their worship.
The leper’s courage and humility moved Jesus to do the unthinkable. Stretching out his hand and touching him, He said: “I do will it. Be made clean.” This is unthinkable because the Law forbids one to come in contact with a leper. Stretching out His hand, Jesus did exactly what God did when He reached out and saved Israel (Ex. 14:30). His words did what He commanded (I do will it. Be made clean.), like God’s word in Creation (Let there be). Touching the “unclean” He is manifesting Himself as the “Holy One of God,” whose holiness reaches out, conquers and heals the impurity. “Be made clean.” The demon was right after all when he recognized Jesus (Mk. 1:24).
Jesus instructed the leper “to tell no one anything.” Instead of attributing the miracle to Himself, He wanted the people to see God, Who saves and sanctifies them through the healing that He performed. As proof that the healing was indeed God’s work, he sent the leper to the priest who would admit him to join in the Jewish worship. The leper, however, could not contain himself. He “went away and began to publicize the whole matter.” As a result, people kept coming to Jesus from everywhere.
St. Paul was once a “leper,” too. Touched by God’s mercy, he exhorts us in the Second Reading to do even the littlest things “for the glory of God . . . not seeking (one’s) own benefit but that of the many, that they may be saved. Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ” (1 Cor. 10:31-11:1). What little thing can we do? The Psalm suggests: “I turn to you, Lord, in time of trouble, and you fill me with the joy of salvation” (Ps. 32: 1b-2, 5, 11).
Pope Francis had a similar invitation: “Let yourselves be healed by Jesus. We all have wounds, all of us: spiritual wounds, sins, enmities, jealousy.” He explained that the devil sows them; only Jesus can casts out demons. For this healing, he stressed that Christians must open their hearts and turn to the Lord, so that he can come and “fill (their) hearts with the joy of salvation,” as the Psalm assures us. Touched also by God’s mercy, the Pope likewise tells us: “Be imitators of me.”
February 11, 1995
Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes
San Marco, Udine, Italy
b. Wash yourselves at the fountain. Wash yourselves at the fountain of living water, gushing from the Heart of Jesus, pierced by the lance of the Roman soldier. For this, with the hands of little Bernadette, I caused a fountain of purest water to gush forth from the rock. And so, I have asked you to go and wash yourselves at the fountain.
c. Wash yourselves at the fountain. A person who has dirtied himself has need to be washed. It is sin which darkens the beauty of your soul; it is sin which takes sanctifying grace away from you and separates you from the communion of life with the Lord your God; it is sin which causes you to return to slavery under Satan, who thus exercises his evil dominion over you; it is sin which leads you along the road of your eternal perdition.
d. Wash yourselves at the fountain. Immerse yourselves in the fountain of divine mercy. This fountain which has gushed from the pierced Heart of Jesus is given to you through the sacrament of Reconciliation. Jesus has instituted it as a precious fruit of his redemption and in order to meet your extreme weakness. On the day of his resurrection, He said to the Apostles: 'Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you shall forgive they are forgiven' (Jn. 20: 22-23). From that moment, there was given to you the possibility of washing yourselves, each and every time your souls be come degraded by sin.
e. Wash yourselves at the fountain. During these years, the sacrament of Reconciliation has become more and more neglected; in fact, it is being attacked in a subtle and perverse way. Thus, there is spreading the wicked habit of committing sin with levity, of justifying it, of not regretting having committed it, and of no longer confessing it.
f. In many parts of the Church, sacramental confession has totally disappeared. Priests who are making themselves available for this indispensable sacrament are becoming more and more scarce. In this way, the Church is becoming utterly paralyzed in her apostolic action; she is wounded and covered with deep sores, like a leper.
g. Wash yourselves at the fountain. Today I am setting before you the ardent and impassioned request of your heavenly Mother that, in these last times of the great tribulation, the sacrament of Reconciliation be restored in all its splendor in my Church.
h. Because, it is only from this fountain that divine mercy can be poured out upon all humanity. It is in this sacrament that Jesus can form new hearts and a renewed life. It is only with this precious sacrament that the merciful love of Jesus can be communicated to the Church and to all humanity.
i. For this reason, I invite you today to let yourselves be immersed in the fountain of divine mercy and to look to me, your heavenly Mother, who have been conceived immaculate for the very purpose of becoming for you Mother of Mercy.
Points for Reflection
Recalling Her appearance as the Immaculate Conception at Lourdes, Our Lady points to Her Son Jesus, as the fountain of grace and of divine mercy. “For this, with the hands of little Bernadette, I caused a fountain of purest water to gush forth from the rock. And so, I have asked you to go and wash yourselves at the fountain” (538 a-b).
Sin afflicts humanity like leprosy, Our Lady tells us. “It is sin which darkens the beauty of your soul; it is sin which takes sanctifying grace away from you and separates you from the communion of life with the Lord your God; it is sin which causes you to return to slavery under Satan, who thus exercises his evil dominion over you; it is sin which leads you along the road of your eternal perdition” (538 c).
We obtain the grace and mercy of forgiveness through the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Jesus instituted this on the day of his resurrection (Jn. 20: 22-23), as a precious fruit of His redemption and in order to meet our extreme weakness. From that moment, the possibility of washing ourselves was given, each and every time our souls become degraded by sin (538 d).
Unfortunately, this sacrament “has become more and more neglected,” which caused “the spread of the wicked habit of committing sin with levity, of justifying it, of not regretting having committed it, and of no longer confessing it” (538 e). She also bewails the disappearance of sacramental confessions due to the scarcity of priests, thereby paralyzing the apostolic action of the Church, wounding and covering her with deep sores, like a leper (538 f).
Conceived immaculate for the very purpose of becoming for us the Mother of Mercy (538 i), Our Lady ardently wishes for this sacrament to be restored in the Church. It is only from this fountain that divine mercy can be poured out upon all humanity, that Jesus can form new hearts and a renewed life, and that the merciful love of Jesus can be communicated to the Church and to all humanity” (538 g). “Never as in these moments has the world been in such need of my maternal presence. Despite all the continuing invitations sent by the Divine Mercy, humanity persists in remaining deaf to every summons,” She said in a separate message (280 b-k). Thus, at Fatima, She taught us to pray to Her Son Jesus to “bring all souls to heaven, especially those most in need of thy mercy” (283 o).
Yours in the Immaculate Heart,
This reflection is shared with all cenacle and other prayer groups (priests and laity), communities and Marian organizations, associations and movements within and outside of the Philippines, with Our Lady’s words transcribed verbatim for those who do not have copies of the messages. This may also be shared with private individuals for their personal use.
Our Lady's messages are taken from the book: "To the Priests, Our Lady's Beloved Sons", a compilation of 604 messages in the form of locutions given by the Blessed Virgin Mary through Fr. Stefano Gobbi of Italy.
Imprimatur: Bp Donald W. Montrose, D.D., 1998
Abp Francesco Cuccarese, 2007