Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Word is that we Americans are consumed with maintaining our youth and youthful appearance. That some people will go to any lengths to remove blemishes, imperfections, and the signs of aging. If you don’t think that’s true think about some of the individuals you have seen who have had extensive plastic surgery. With that and our readings in mind can you imagine an infomercial like this…

Hello my name is Deacon Steve Noyes from the Diocese of Manchester. As humble and stunningly handsome cleric I frequently am asked this question:

Deacon how do you maintain that unique, breath taking and iridescent complexion of yours?

So now, in the next minutes, I will selflessly reveal a formula that I modified from the Three Stooges website, using mostly household items and tools that will allow you to achieve these breath taking results. I will warn you this is not for the faint of heart or those who only want to use half measures to maintain a blemish free, youthful appearance like you see before you. Now first you need to cleanse the skin and exfoliate. Now you can’t use some basic sort of facial scrub with those little tiny scrubbing bubbles — that just won’t cut it. No, the first step is coarse sandpaper — you can use it wet or dry. Use a little bit of elbow grease, flatten that furrowed brow, collapse those crows feet, liquidate those liver spots. After rinsing, dry with an organic terry towel you are ready for  the second step.

This is a custom blended paint and clear-coat called diaconal diamond glow (available in finer stores and apothecaries). Apply a thin coat. If you choose to forgo my custom blend, make sure to buy paint that doesn’t run, otherwise it makes it look like you’re crying all the time and will require additional sanding in the preparation phase. Make sure that you close your eyes — failing to do so will not sting, it’ll cloud your vision for several days. I learned the hard way. After that is completely dry comes the third step.

Apply a liberal portion of bowling alley wax. Not only will this protect against the elements but will also ensure that you don’t get dents and unsightly scars from those little bumps and bruises that can happen in daily life. If you prefer a high luster, take out your Dremel tool with the polishing cloth on it and apply to those areas you would like to have glow with a youthful iridescence. Yes, with these few steps you too can look like this.

Now none of you, or any reasonable person, would not do this to themselves. We all know that it would cause damage, and even more to the point, it would not remove the blemishes that really matter. The blemishes that get in the way of relationship with God and each other. 

This week both the Old Testament and Gospel readings refer to the Book of Leviticus. The book of Leviticus, when combined with some of the books of Exodus and Deuteronomy, create an instruction manual per se about how to praise God, how to treat other human beings, as well as how to deal with wide range of what we would call social justice issues. To us, some of these laws and regulations are going to seem fairly basic. Father Mike Schmidt, is currently doing the Bible in a year timeline readings through Ascension Press, explains these laws this way:

At the time when these laws and rules were introduced, the world was a pretty uncivil and violent place. You could essentially do most anything you wanted without any sort of legal or social consequence because they did not really exist. When God called the chosen people, he said they could not continue to act like this if they were to execute justice like he executes justice. That there was a limit that to what you could do to another human being, or group. That there were ways to address the health concerns so as to protect the community. God also wanted to outline how we are to worship him and seek his forgiveness when we have made a mistake. These laws all get woven into this covenant between the chosen people and God. They continued to exist up to the time of Jesus and have influenced our laws and codes of contact to this day. Isn’t it interesting in our Gospel reading that Jesus who is God incarnate after healing a leper obeys the law the law and refers the leper to the priest as prescribed by these rules? 

In much the same way, our reading from first Corinthians this week reminds us that we are to be imitators of Jesus. Saint Paul reminds us that Jesus perfectly lives out the law of God. That by imitating and approaching him our blemishes and barriers are removed.

Beginning on Wednesday, we enter the season of Lent, which like the leper, allows us to approach Jesus and examine how are we doing living out God’s law. Where there are blemishes and injuries we can present ourselves to our priest for reconciliation and healing?

May this Lent help us become less consumed with our outward appearance, inspire us to intensely live out God’s law of love, and to be more concerned about the health of our eternal soul.

Readings for Sunday, February 14, 2021