After Mass today, I dropped by the flower shop to ensure I’ll have flowers delivered for Alma on Valentine’s Day. The shop was running out of flowers, as new stocks will be coming in tomorrow. Surely the flowers business is brisk these days, and I’m just thankful that the local shop in the village is flourishing.
Curiously Valentine’s Day is also Ash Wednesday, which ushers the long season of Lent.
Fr. Barrios, a visiting priest this Sunday told a story of one parishioner suggesting that instead of marking the Cross on her forehead, she wanted a heart, to which the priest replied, “It sounds a good idea, but remember that while the heart dies with the person, the Cross lasts forever.”
In the Gospel, a leper came to Jesus and kneeling down begged him and said, “If you wish, you can make me clean.” Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand, touched him, and said to him, “I do will it. Be made clean.” The leprosy left him immediately, and he was made clean. (Mk. 1: 40-42) The faith of the leper is taken from knowing how powerful Jesus is.
Note that in those times as it was in the time of Moses (First Reading), lepers were sent to live away from other people,
“As long as the sore is on him he shall declare himself unclean, since he is in fact unclean.
He shall dwell apart, making his abode outside the camp.” (Lv. 13: 46)
Yet the Lord’s reply shows how God’s love is so amazing and unconditional. His mercy is beyond compare, His patience unfathomable. As St. Paul says, “If we are unfaithful, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.” (2 Tim. 2: 13).
Many friends tell me how tired they’ve been of helping others that for once, they’d want to take a break. To them I said, “Just hang on and persevere, you’ll still feel better when others are happy because of you.” Indeed. Actually the point is that instead of thinking of making ourselves happy, why not focus instead on making others happy? As Fr. Armand proposes, being happy means making others happy. Have you noticed that when others are happy, you feel better? When you do that, the fruit is not only making others happy, but also making yourself more lovable. And inspiring! That is the essence of servant leadership.
As we move closer to Ash Wednesday, let us pray to the Father that we be inspired to serve more, to persevere more and to love more. It is only then that we not only give our hearts, but also make the Holy Cross of Christ becoming authentic in our lives.
“Be glad in the LORD and rejoice, you just; exult, all you upright of heart.” (Ps. 32: 11)