Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time: http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/021118.cfm
Jesus wills each person to belong.
The reversal is astonishing: the Old Testament priests ostracize those with leprosy with one declaration, “Unclean, unclean.” With scabs, pustule, or blotches, one was forced outside of society. Jesus, though, brings those with leprosy back into community through healing words, “Be made clean.” So great is Jesus’ desire for everyone to belong, so moved with pity, He risks everything—going against all religious norms—to reinstate each person into the human family. “Be made clean.” Jesus wills each person to belong.
We long to belong.
Author Brene Brown asserts: “We are biologically, cognitively, physically, and spiritually wired to love, to be loved, and to belong. When those needs are not met, we don’t function as we were meant to. We break. We fall apart. We numb. We ache. We hurt others. We get sick.” Each person was created to belong to a family, to a community, and to the entire human race. We long to belong.
She longed to belong.
At the Archdiocese of Dubuque Beauty Alive gatherings this past fall, we listened to the needs and desires of hundreds of women. One message came across loud and clear: “I want to belong.” “I want to be seen.” “I want to be welcomed.” One woman noted she had been attending Mass at a new parish for several months and had not received so much as a smile or hello. She felt invisible. She longed to belong.
The human heart longs to belong.
In Hands Free Mama, Rachel Macy Stafford writes of the pain of breaking into a new school. After she and her daughter were ignored—made to feel invisible, Stafford turned this aching event into a teachable moment: “Remember the deepest desire of the human heart is to belong … to be welcomed … to know you are seen and worthy of kindness.” The human heart longs to belong.
They had found a place to belong.
During the blockbuster movie, The Greatest Showman, a cast of “unclean” characters fill the big screen: the bearded lady, the Siamese twins, the albino woman, and the midget, whose mother hid him in a back bedroom out of shame and fear. As P. T. Barnum invites these “odd” persons into his show, they eventually emerge from the shadows. Later, when the circus burns to the ground, threatening to disband this curious group, Barnum consents to keeping the circus together as they had become a “real family” and belonged to a true home. They had found a place to belong.
“We all long to belong.”
As parents/grandparents, we name grace—God’s welcoming presence—each time we teach our children of God’s desire to include others: the girl or boy with skin blemishes, the new kid on the block, or the classmate with special needs. We model God’s inclusivity each time we invite the new neighbor for dinner, welcome a new person at Mass, or journey with an immigrant family. We remind our children that no one is to be invisible or discarded: “We all long to belong.”
“You belong to me!”
Jesus calls each person from the loneliness of isolation. He asserts His Church as the true home for His real family. As members of the Church, we are responsible for guaranteeing no one feels shunned, invisible, unnecessary, or alone. We are to bring others out of the shadows by welcoming, including, and inviting them into the communion of faith. For Jesus claims each human person as His own and declares: “You belong to me!” Now, that’s good news!
The blog on this page presents reflections on the Sunday readings through the lens of a parent/grandparent, aiding leaders of the domestic church in their vital task as “first heralds” or “first preachers” of the Good News in the home.