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Grace received through healing

Readings for Feb. 10-11, Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

By Fr. Edward Looney | For On Mission

This Sunday is Feb. 11. It is indeed the Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time and, in fact, the last Sunday of Ordinary Time we will observe as we enter into Lent and Easter in the weeks that follow. 

Feb. 11 is also the memorial of Our Lady of Lourdes, which is not observed liturgically this year, and also the World Day of Prayer for the Sick.

I have been a pilgrim to Lourdes half a dozen times. It is one of my favorite places on earth. For me, it is Heaven on Earth. 

On Feb. 11, 1858, the Blessed Virgin Mary began her series of apparitions received by the seer St. Bernadette Soubirous. Our Lady appeared at what was a dumping ground and transformed it into a beautiful place of prayer. 

Lourdes is known as a place of healing because, at the direction of Our Lady, Bernadette dug in the ground and uncovered a miraculous spring of water. Today, pilgrims and malades enter the piscines or baths to allow the miraculous water to wash over them. 

Many healings have been documented throughout the history of Lourdes. Pilgrims fill bottles of water and bring them home in order to bless themselves and others with it. 

I have had profound experiences of prayer while praying at the Grotto in Lourdes, have met a wide variety of people during my pilgrimages, and have seen the grace of Lourdes’ water at work in the lives of individuals I have blessed.

Our first reading and Gospel for this weekend go together. 

In Leviticus we hear of the plight that befalls people who have leprous sores — they are to be declared unclean. In the Gospel, an unclean leper approaches Jesus and begging for mercy and healing. Jesus did not run away and, instead, entered into conversation with the man. This leper’s life was forever changed by Jesus.

After being declared clean, he was able to see his family again. He could embrace those he loved. He was restored to society. He was able to approach anyone and tell them what wonderful things happened in his life because of Jesus. He experienced the profound grace of healing.

Many people might go to Lourdes in hopes of being healed. They might be disappointed because they did not receive that grace. Our Lady’s intercession is at work and Our Lord’s will unfold. The grace received might not be healing, but that of acceptance of or perseverance through an illness. 

On this World Day of Prayer for the Sick, be like the leper in the Gospel, unafraid to approach the Lord for healing. In prayer, name and ask for it. Then wait and see how God will answer.

Fr. Looney serves as pastor of Sacred Heart Parish, Shawano, and priest celebrant at St. Martin Parish, Cecil. He hosts the podcast “Hey Everybody! It’s Fr. Edward.”

The readings for Sunday, Feb. 11, can be found at Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time.

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