“..as long as the disease lasts he must be unclean; & therefore he must live apart; he must live outside the camp.” covid best practice; self-isolation..quarantine..PPE..shielding.. ..a new language for a new disease.. however, phrase I have just shared with you is from the book of Leviticus written 500yrs before Christ, describing best practice to defend individuals & communities against leprosy.. ..& here & now covid free, leprosy free, but each & all of us infected/carriers of the spiritual covid, a disease we call dis-grace.. for times we have fallen away from grace & suffer from spiritual long covid, let us approach our divine healer..
“..I will confess my offence [my disease] to the Lord..” ; Lord have mercy “..I have acknowledged my sins [my dis-grace ]” ; Christ have mercy “..& you Lord, have forgiven the guilt of my sin “ if only I could believe it.. ; Lord have mercy May Almighty God have mercy on us, forgive us our sins & bring us to everlasting life. Amen.
..one of finest gifts of being a parent or teacher is when a child or student quotes back a piece of wisdom or best practice we taught them..at last we see them & gift grown on & deepening..we call it nurturing, as child becomes an even better practitioner of goodness than us..”if you want to, you can cure me” it must have moved Jesus to tears to hear a leper, a reject, banished to a life of solitary confinement in an invisible prison, to voice humbly gently, the second greatest gift given to humanity after gift of life itself..gift of free will..to choose the forbidden fruit or not..to choose to give 20m of our UK vaccine stocks to Liberia where so far 25 people have been vaccinated; 25 among 5m people; equivalent in UK of 350 vaccinations. “I try to be helpful to everyone at all times, not anxious for my own advantage, but for the advantage of everybody else, so that they may be saved” St Paul in 2nd rdg. The divine free will was invested lovingly, self-sacrificially, generously, risking his life early on here in his ministry, a taster for him of what was to become Good Friday, if his own use of free will was to be effective..first the wobble, Maundy Thursday evg remember?..”Father, take this cup of suffering from me” & then his covid moment of loneliness [ his last 3 trusties had fallen asleep ] he could no longer pray, it had been drained out of him..a despairing Christ in Kilmarnock last week 3 lives lost, 3 favourite disciples put to death; & at a critical moment for Jesus, he reconnected with his Father “but let it be as you not I would have it” the return of grace..the vaccine, spiritual energy, to face Good Friday, & the rest is history, salvation history. Imagine risk as leper approached domain of the healthy, breaking convention; covid patient discharges themself from York Dist Hospital or self-isolation, & is there within 2metres of you, their beloved pleading on their knees “if you want to, you can cure me” what would you do I wonder?..you may wonder, & truthfully, grace-fully, we don’t know what we’d do..a sacrament of the present moment we can’t forecast rehearse or anticipate..miracles are not planned or stage managed, they spontaneously appear, & the alert & expectant are the beneficiaries..& now, would you think of it please in terms of spiritual covid?; a disease within them, or in you or I, we’ve suffered from for years, which has left us infected/ill/ disabled/partially-sighted/hard of hearing/feeling numb to every touch/hug/smile/warmth, surviving on edge of family, behind façade of compliance & good-naturedness, awaiting spiritual vaccine called grace..if if someone like leper will let me approach them & listen to my truth “if you want to, you can cure me”..& what will your response be?..grace-full or conditional or delayed?..like Rev Julie Nicholson struggling to forgive Saddiq who murdered her daughter in 7 July London bombings..a woman priest, with years of listening to evidence for divine mercy & forgiveness, a spiritual doctor administering it week in week out, & when it comes home into her own broken heart, her Gethsemane, she finds herself on a journey with some way to go yet, half-heartedly still grief-fully she hesitates “I can’t forgive.for the time being” her profession of faith hope & love, she like you & I so often, isn’t saying never, she is saying not yet..it’s too soon..perhaps spiritual vaccine, like Oxford Zenica, takes time to build up to full immunity, full forgiveness..30days or 5yrs?.in some sense it doesn’t matter by then; we have had vaccine, & it is work life faith in progress..just look at faces of those coming out from vaccination centres out of our own surgery, with sore arm & huge smile of relief & release..a cure finally in progress..oh what a hope & a prayer for each of you here at this Mass, this vaccination centre, that you will all leave here in 25mins time with profound sense of relief & release..your cure now in progress on a journey with your divine companion...& why did he urge leper “mind you say nothing to anyone..but go & show yourself to the priest as evidence of your recovery”? because the priest, then & now, is the one who, on behalf of the faith community, signs you back to work as a disciple..at end of celebration of Sacrament of Reconciliation priest says on behalf of you the parish family ”through the ministry of the Church, may God give you pardon & peace, & I absolve you from your sins in the name of the Father, & of the Son, & of the Holy Spirit”..priceless ageless.. “bless me Father, for I have sinned, it is 70yrs since my last Confession..” 70yrs, & 2days later he died..”of course I want to, be cured!”..the choice is yours..free will..the queue to go to the Surgery for Oxford vaccine is hugely impressive & promising; however, I have been approached by 10 of you since Christmas for the spiritual vaccine that promises you, & through you, me, eternal life.. where is the real deal?..at Surgery or here?.. ..for covid vaccine, you wait to be contacted..for spiritual vaccine, you ring or email me.. your choice your call..”if you want to, you can cure me”..”of course I want to..” [6thSunYrB Mk1;40-45]