Regína sacratíssimi Rosárii, ora pro nobis!


Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost—19 August A.D. 2018
Ave Maria!

“Go and show yourselves to the priests.”[1]

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Ordinary of the Mass
English Text
Latin Text

    Leprosy was one of the great scourges of the ancient world. It caused people to lose all sensation, sometimes even their sight. Loss of sensation caused people to injure themselves—they could not feel the heat of boiling water, the sharpness of a knife, or the sting of an animal bite. Such injuries caused more damage than the disease itself.

    In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve were perfectly healthy—there was no disease. But with original sin came all of the maladies human beings experience. Sin brought pain, sickness, suffering, and even death. By the time of Moses, the Jewish people had identified leprosy as a contagious disease and had identified the need to isolate it's carriers from the general population.[2] In the Mosaic Law, God directed lepers to remain apart from the people, and to warn them of their presence by ringing a bell. The Law recognized the rare possibility that a leper might be spontaneously cured, but did not allow the leper simply to declare himself cured. Since the Law viewed sickness as a consequence of sin, it was left up to the priests of the Temple to make a determination as to whether the leper had actually been cured.[3]

    In the early days the priesthood was somewhat informal. Sacrifice might be offered by the father of a family, by the eldest son, or by a king—Abraham, Abel, and , Melchisedech are examples of such priests (and all three are mentioned in the Canon of the Mass). But with the Exodus from Egypt and the giving of the Mosaic Law, God established that only the sons of Moses' brother Aaron could serve as priests. At the same time, God appointed Levites—the sons of Jacob and Leah—to assist the priests—a sort of “server,” or “deacon” in Catholic terms.

    The priestly sacrifices in the Temple were offered for the same purposes we acknowledge in payer: adoration, thanksgiving, petition, and atonement for sin.  Again, since leprosy was considered a consequence of sin, and since the priests were responsible for the community's atonement for sin, the cure of lepers was to be evaluated by the priests.

    Even though modern Christians accept a germ theory of disease and the possibility of healing with medicine and surgery, we still must admit that sickness entered the world through original sin. And Catholic priests offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Cross for the same four purposes as the priests of the Temple: adoration, thanksgiving, petition, and atonement for sin. And the Church has us take on roles similar to those of the Jewish priests.

    The priest is able to hear confessions and forgive the sins of the penitent. In this connection, we might think of sin as a sort of “spiritual leprosy.” That is not as farfetched as it might sound at first. People who choose to remain in sin tend to become infectious, spreading their errors and their bad behavior to others. As the Jews avoided lepers, good Catholics will want to avoid the unnecessary occasions of sin—which may include person's, places, and things which induce them to sin. The best remedy for everyone concerned is frequent Confession. This is as true today as it was in the time of the Apostles. So, “Show yourself to the priest”!

    Another close parallel is the Sacrament of Extreme Unction—often called the Anointing of the Sick. The Sacrament not only forgives sins, but in some cases will actually restore health. I have had a number of people recover after being anointed. Everyone dies eventually, but sometimes a few more months or even years are granted. But please cooperate with the Church in this—if you or someone in your care is seriously I'll, call the priest as soon as possible. There is nothing sadder to a good priest than to get a call to schedule a funeral without first being called to anoint the person. So, “Show yourself to the priest”!

    As I mentioned earlier, Catholic priests offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Cross for the same four purposes as the priests of the Temple: adoration, thanksgiving, petition, and atonement for sin. Instead of animal sacrifice, we offer the unbloody Sacrifice of the Mass—offering Jesus Christ to His Father. Here at Our Lady of the Rosary, Mass is offered virtually every day. I do wish more people would take advantage of the opportunity to stand daily with our Lord at the foot of the Cross. Many weekdays there are only one or two in attendance. So, once again I will say: “Show yourself to the priest”!


[1]  Gospel: Luke xvii:11-19

[2]  Leviticus xiii:46

[3]  Leviticus xiv:1-57





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