Reflections

Friday After Epiphany, January 8, 2021

LIFE THROUGH FAITH IN JESUS
Introduction
What John says in his letter about faith in Jesus is exemplified in the gospel. Faith consists in believing in Jesus Christ, “who came by water and blood”; when he was baptized in the waters of the Jordan, he was proclaimed Son of God; by shedding his blood on the cross, he accomplished his mission. This Jesus has eternal life. By believing in him, we encounter him as a person and share in his life.
The leper believes in him: “You can cure me,” he says. Jesus restores the man’s health and thus manifests once more that God’s power and life is in him. Let’s believe in him and believe him!
 
Opening Prayer
Lord God of life, we believe with all that is in us that Jesus is your Son and our Saviour. He can heal us from the leprosy of sin and give us a share in the fullness of his life. Deepen our faith in him and let it change our lives. Let us encounter your Son from person to person, that he may live in us and that we may bear witness that he is our Lord and Saviour, who lives with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen!
 
1 Reading: 1 John 5:5-13
Beloved: Who indeed is the victor over the world but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? This is the one who came through water and Blood, Jesus Christ, not by water alone, but by water and Blood. The Spirit is the one who testifies, and the Spirit is truth. So there are three who testify, the Spirit, the water, and the Blood, and the three are of one accord. If we accept human testimony, the testimony of God is surely greater. Now the testimony of God is this, that he has testified on behalf of his Son. Whoever believes in the Son of God has this testimony within himself. Whoever does not believe God has made him a liar by not believing the testimony God has given about his Son. And this is the testimony: God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever possesses the Son has life; whoever does not possess the Son of God does not have life. I write these things to you so that you may know that you have eternal life, you who believe in the name of the Son of God.
 
Responsorial Psalm: Ps 147:12-13, 14-15, 19-20
R. (12a) Praise the Lord, Jerusalem. or: Alleluia.
Glorify the LORD, O Jerusalem; praise your God, O Zion. For he has strengthened the bars of your gates; he has blessed your children within you. R.
 
He has granted peace in your borders; with the best of wheat he fills you. He sends forth his command to the earth; swiftly runs his word! R.
 
He has proclaimed his word to Jacob, his statutes and his ordinances to Israel. He has not done thus for any other nation; R.
 
Alleluia: Matthew 4:23
Alleluia, alleluia. Jesus proclaimed the Gospel of the Kingdom and cured every disease among the people. R. Alleluia, alleluia.
 
Gospel: Luke 5:12-16
It happened that there was a man full of leprosy in one of the towns where Jesus was; and when he saw Jesus, he fell prostrate, pleaded with him, and said, “Lord, if you wish, you can make me clean.” Jesus stretched out his hand, touched him, and said, “I do will it. Be made clean.” And the leprosy left him immediately. Then he ordered him not to tell anyone, but “Go, show yourself to the priest and offer for your cleansing what Moses prescribed; that will be proof for them.” The report about him spread all the more, and great crowds assembled to listen to him and to be cured of their ailments, but he would withdraw to deserted places to pray.
 
Commentary
Credence is derived from the credentials presented. We may be inclined to think of Christ’s credentials as his miracles. And yet in many instances, when it comes to the miracles of Jesus, he counsels silence. The principal note of credibility that the Gospels set forth is the witness that the Father gives in sending his Son into the world in atonement for sin and then bringing him through his ordeal to the glory of the resurrection. Whoever believes in Jesus Christ hears that testimony. Whoever rejects that teaching makes of God a liar and has no life in him.
In today’s Gospel, the cured leper is told to present himself to the priest in order to be restored to the community. Any form of leprosy, which included even skin disorders, excluded one from participation in the life of the community. Reintegration could only take place with the priest’s acknowledgment that the disease was no longer present. While the teaching of Jesus went beyond the Jewish law, he was never indifferent to its prescriptions. He was a reformer, not an iconoclast. There are those who remain attached to practices that are no longer in the forefront of church life. These people deserve respect and reverence even when our religious mentality differs pronouncedly. Religious practice dies a very slow death. While we may not always share another’s convic­tions, we can still appreciate his or her position.
The words of John today retain their overriding impor­tance. Jesus Christ stands at the heart and centre of our belief. He alone is the way, the truth, and the life. There is nothing this side of heaven that has greater importance than our single Lord and Saviour. To believe in him with total conviction is to have eternal life.
 
Intercessions
That all Christians, especially our leaders of the Church, may by their goodness and their spontaneous joy bear forceful witness that Jesus Christ is our risen Lord, we pray:
That all peoples of the earth may hear where the Lord can be found and come to know his name and pray to him, we pray:
That the faith and hope of the sick and the dying may be firmly anchored in our Lord Jesus Christ, who is the resurrection and the life, we pray:
 
Prayer over the Gifts
Lord our God, in these signs of bread and wine we remember that Jesus shed his blood to let us share in his life and love. Renew us by his body and blood, that we may grow in his likeness and that you may recognize in us the face of your own Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen!
 
Prayer after Communion
Lord God, loving Father, your Son has been with us and we entrust ourselves to him in faith. Let this faith so mark our lives that whatever the future brings, we keep trusting and hoping that he is our life and joy and healing, and that with him and on account of him we will live in your love for ever and ever. Amen!
 
Blessing
“Whoever has Jesus, the Son, has life,” says the apostle John to us today. May Jesus’ life keep growing in all of us, and may God bless you, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen!

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