6th Sunday in Ordinary time Year B. Helpful Hints for the Sunday Readings, Deep Sea Diving into the Scriptures. a realhomilie by Fr.Kev Walsh, Family Intercessions, Blessing, Info about Iona Abbey, Ongoing formation in Scripture Studies, and a Memo about the origins of St.Valentine’s Day. Number 54

08 Feb



Helpful hints

It is very important for us to read God’s Word slowly and reflectively. We are not reading it just to get information or answer questions; we must enable God’s Word to enter us just like liquid polish enters timber that is thirsty for nutrition. A good rule of thumb is to have a question like this in our mind……”Lord, what are you saying to ME in your Word today? Secondly, how can my life be changed, in order to allow God’s Word to find a Home in my being? Finally, as for special Feasts, Advent and Lent, the three Readings are in a sequence which has an underlying thread running through them. In Ordinary time, the First Reading, and the Gospel are bridged…so we generally look for the link. The Second Reading is continuous, and follows on to the next Sunday.


First Reading: Leviticus 13:1-2. 44-46

(As long as he is unclean, he must live alone, outside the camp.)

The Lord said to Moses and Aaron, ‘If a swelling or scab or shiny spot appears on a man’s skin, a case of leprosy of the skin is to be suspected. The man must be taken to Aaron, the priest, or to one of the priests who are his sons.

‘The man is leprous: he is unclean. The priest must declare him unclean; he is suffering from leprosy of the head. A man infected with leprosy must wear his clothing torn and his hair disordered; he must shield his upper lip and cry, “Unclean, unclean.” As long as the disease lasts he must be unclean; and therefore he must live apart; he must live outside the camp.’ This is the word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.


(Let’s PAUSE and reflect upon this reading, and let us ask ourselves the two questions stated above. That is our PERSONAL response to the Word. This might take a few minutes, try not to rush it. The Psalm and Antiphon is the COMMUNITY response to God’s Word, a bit like a short and sweet Text Message)




R. I turn to you, Lord, in time of trouble, and you fill me with the joy of salvation.

Happy the man whose offence is forgiven, whose sin is remitted. O happy the man to whom the Lord imputes no guilt, in whose spirit is no guile.

R. I turn to you, Lord, in time of trouble, and you fill me with the joy of salvation.

But now I have acknowledged my sins; my guilt I did not hide. I said: ‘I will confess my offence to the Lord.’ And you, Lord, have forgiven the guilt of my sin.

R. I turn to you, Lord, in time of trouble, and you fill me with the joy of salvation.

Rejoice, rejoice in the Lord, exult, you just! O come, ring out your joy, all you upright of heart.

R. I turn to you, Lord, in time of trouble, and you fill me with the joy of salvation.


Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 10:31 – 11:1

(Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.)

Whatever you eat, whatever you drink, whatever you do at all, do it for the glory of God. Never do anything offensive to anyone – to Jews or Greeks or to the Church of God; just as I try to be helpful to everyone at all times, not anxious for my own advantage but for the advantage of everybody else, so that they may be saved. Take me for your model, as I take Christ.

This is the word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.

Let’s PAUSE again after this Reading, and reflect on it like you did after the first Reading. The Community Acclamation follows and should be sung: e.g ALLELUIA, or PRAISE TO YOU LORD JESUS CHRIST KING OF ENDLESS GLORY. When we are present at our Sunday Eucharistic Celebration, the Alleluia or Praise be to you…should always be sung. Why? It’s a bit like singing Happy Birthday! 

We never say it…  🙂


Gospel: Mark 1:40-45

(The leprosy left him and he was cured.)

A leper came to Jesus and pleaded on his knees: ‘If you want to’ he said ‘you can cure me.’ Feeling sorry for him, Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him. ‘Of course I want to!’ he said. ‘Be cured!’ And the leprosy left him at once and he was cured. Jesus immediately sent him away and sternly ordered him, ‘Mind you say nothing to anyone, but go and show yourself to the priest, and make the offering for your healing prescribed by Moses as evidence of your recovery.’ The man went away, but then started talking about it freely and telling the story everywhere, so that Jesus could no longer go openly into any town, but had to stay outside in places where nobody lived. Even so, people from all around would come to him.

This is the Gospel of the Lord. Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.

Reflection time again……. see if you can see and hear the links, connecting between the Frist Readings and the Gospel. After that, we are then ready for what is to follow…..



If you have ever opened your eyes under water, or used a snorkel and face mask, or had the opportunity to use an aqualung, it is a very different world to explore isn’t it? I love snorkelling, and it is though the fish welcome you into their world. However, they need to be treated with respect, and one must be aware of ‘no-go’ zones especially where sharks are known to call that place, ‘home’ especially at meal times. So, this next section is going down into the Scriptures, which opens the pathway for us to be curious about The Word, and it will also develop an appetite in us to do this more often.

Focusing the Word

Key words and phrases

If you want to you can cure me.

Be cured!

He told the story everywhere.

I turn to you, Lord, in time of trouble.

Whatever you do, do it for the glory of God.

to the point

The leper in the Old Testament is required to proclaim ‘unclean’ and to live apart. The leper in the gospel, now ‘made clean,’ proclaims instead the good news of having been healed. Encounter with Jesus transforms the man and the way he lives – from isolation to religious (‘show yourself to the priest’) and social (‘spread the report abroad’) inclusion.

Connecting the Word

to last Sunday

Jesus’ expressed purpose to proclaim the gospel (last Sunday) is realised both in this healing (‘Of course I want to’) and in the leper’s ‘talking about it freely.’ The leper was confident that Jesus ‘can cure me.’ He wondered (‘if you want to’) if Jesus would.

to Catholic culture

It’s often easier for ourselves to believe that Jesus has the power to heal than that he will show mercy.

Understanding the Word

‘Say nothing to anyone’: the messianic secret in Mark

Although Jesus is eager to proclaim the gospel, he frequently commands people, demons, and disciples not to tell anyone about him and his deeds of power (1:25, 34, 44; 3:11-12; 5:43; 7:36; 8:30; 9:9). The command usually comes after a demon has announced the identity of Jesus or after Jesus’ power has been displayed in a dramatic healing. Sometimes Jesus is perceived by people as a miracle-worker, an agent of evil, or a prophet like Elijah. Some of these perceptions are clearly wrong – he is certainly not an agent of Satan (3:22-30) nor is he merely a miracle-worker. Other times Jesus is called ‘the Holy One of God,’ ‘Son of God,’ or ‘Messiah.’ Although these titles contain some truth, they are incomplete and inadequate. To allow people to announce him as the ‘Messiah’ would arouse hopes that he has come to cast off the oppression of Rome and establish Judah as a free and independent kingdom once again. Or to see him as the ‘Holy One of God’ or the ‘Son of God’ might lead people to see only his glory and power and to expect the establishment of God’s kingdom in triumph.

According to Mark, Jesus attempted to avert these false hopes and fatal misunderstandings by keeping his true identity secret until his death on the cross when the Roman centurion, seeing Jesus die, announces, ‘Truly this man was the Son of God’ (15:39). No understanding of Jesus is adequate that does not include his suffering and death. Even the most accurate title (Son of God) can only be understood properly at the foot of the cross. So central is the suffering-and-death of Jesus to the proper understanding of him that Mark devotes a full third of his gospel to Jesus’ last week on earth (chapters 11–16). The cross discloses who Jesus truly is – the suffering-and-dying Son of God. Until he is crucified all statements about him are provisional at best. Mark keeps the identity of Jesus as the Messiah secret until it can be properly understood.

A realhomilie from Fr.Kev

Dear One and All,

In today’s gospel, we have Jesus healing a leper. It is an extraordinary prayer of simple faith and, in healing him; Jesus touched him, which was an extraordinary expression of love, and something that, incidentally, was totally against the law! Let’s have a closer look at this evergreen story, because it has direct implications for us today.

The man had leprosy. What was he to do? In this case, he went straight to Jesus, with a very simple uncomplicated prayer. ‘ Lord, if you want to, you can make me clean.’ No long speeches, no promises about a reformed lifestyle, and no pronouncement to Jesus of unworthiness.  It was one of those precious moments of grace, when the truth was evident at that moment. The man was powerless, and he saw with the eyes of growing faith, that the healing hand of God was in Jesus. This was the basis for the miracle, as it is for all miracles in the Scriptures, and in our own lives.

Notice that Jesus touched him. It’s almost impossible for us to appreciate what that meant. I think that Fr.Varillon in his Book titled:- La parole est mon Royaume, ( Paris: Centurion, 1986) 69-70 delves into the depth of this action and the profound meaning of Our Lord’s compassion for this man, and for us, ‘Jesus’ compassion is not skin-deep;it is an upheaval of the depths of his being. There is no true compassion without passion: those who are compassionate really suffer in their own persons. Compassion is a Communion in suffering. It is impossible for the Father to remain impassive when the children suffer – and among them the eternal Son made a human being. The Father’s suffering is a great mystery, and when we want to speak about it, we stammer miserably. However, it is urgent to reject from our mind the idea that the Father, because of the perfection of his nature, looks from afar on human suffering without himself being painfully involved and wounded……  The cure of the Leper orients my meditation in this direction.  I cannot believe that Jesus does not suffer as much as the poor sick man and that the Father does not suffer as much as the Son.’ Lepers were outcasts and untouchable. With the medical science at our fingertips, most of the sores, blemishes or spots were not Leprosy. Nowadays Calamine Lotion, or Savlon or some other cream would bring about healing.  But there was something else within the corporate mind of our ancestors in faith, which brought back a terrible memory, and went right back to the time when the Hebrew people were freed from slavery in Egypt. One of the ten  Plagues consisted of terrible and unsightly skin boils, so that was generally in the mind of our ancestors in faith. It was seen as a punishment. Now, notice that Jesus stretched out his hand within the moment of healing……this was seen by the early Christian community and for us today as a Sacrament action….the laying on of hands….the sign of the empowerment of the Holy Spirit. However, getting back to the miracle, to touch a leper made the other person unclean and untouchable as well. It would be absolutely unthinkable for a religious Jew to come next to or even near a leper, much less touch one.  The law was totally lacking love and compassion when it came to the obligations of cleanliness that it imposed on society at that time. There is no doubt that Jesus saw something totally different from everyone else when he looked at the leper, and he was urged by the Holy Spirit to reach out to this person who lived on the fringe of society, within a lonely world which the law imposed on such people. Jesus broke that law, and enabled him to be free!

The Gospel story causes us to pause in more ways than one: Who are the Lepers in our society today? How do we respond or react to them? Are some of our attitudes a bit like the prescriptions in the first reading? This certainly is food for thought for me, and maybe for you too. Perhaps it might be a good idea to really PAUSE at this point of the realhomilie and reflect upon this….then quietly move onto the next section

‘Lord, if you want to, you can make ME clean.’ What a simple prayer! Jesus’ answer was instant ‘ Of course I want to’. That is true right here, right now. ‘ Lord, I know that you want to heal ME, to forgive ME, to free ME.’ I ask that you do that right now. Prayer is really easy if we keep it simple.  The facts are very clear, and the facts are friendly. In the sight of God, I am who I am, and Jesus is who he is.  When I meet Jesus, and understand my place before Him, miracles can be expected. If I were to pause for a few minutes right now, what would my prayer be?

May God bless you and your families, and may we never forget each other in prayer.     Fr.Kev




This is a great opportunity to gather the Family in Prayer. Having a Prayer Setting really adds to and designates this time as a ‘special’ time together. You might like to have a nice coloured cloth on a coffee table, or on the centre of the Dining Room Table. You will need a candle, Crucifix, Bible …in the opened position, even at the Gospel of the Sunday, and maybe a flower. You might like to create your own permanent ‘sacred space’ in your home, where the Word of God is open, and a small tee light within a fire proof glass, could awaken in the minds and hearts of your family of the ‘real presence’ of God in His Word.  Prayer time needs to be able to engage as many of our senses as possible. Someone in the family might like to be the leader, then other family members can share the prayers….everyone can be invited to join is spontaneous shared prayer…

Leader: We prayerfully stretch out our hearts and hands to the Lord who stretched out his hand to touch and heal a leper.

For our Holy Father the Pope and for all leader-servants of the Church, that they stretch out their hearts and hands to heal discrimination and injustice, we pray to the Lord: Lord, graciously hear us.

For our civic leaders, that they stretch out their hearts and hands to help the poor, the homeless, the hungry and the victims of war, we pray to the Lord: Lord, graciously hear us.

For all of us here today, that we stretch out our hearts and hands to help those who need our spiritual and material assistance, we pray to the Lord: Lord, graciously hear us.

For the people of this faith community, that we stretch out our hearts and hands and invite fallen-away Catholics to return to the healing home of the Church, we pray to the Lord: Lord, graciously hear us.

For those who care for the ill, the elderly, and the dying, that they continue to stretch out their hearts and hands to heal and comfort their patients, we pray to the Lord: Lord, graciously hear us.

For all who have died, including N. and N., that they be welcomed to glory and embraced by the stretched-out heart and hands of our loving God, we pray to the Lord: Lord, graciously hear us.

Let’s think back over the past week, and what we have seen on the T.V News, Breaking News on our Mobile Phones and ipads….who are some of the people in our Global village or need our prayers? You might like to share some of these…………., we pray to the Lord: Lord, graciously hear us.

Leader: Merciful, loving God, we ask you to grant these prayers we make through Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Blessing……..


Blessing is taken from the Iona Abbey Sacramentary, Scotland. 

Early history  Iona Abbey – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

In 563, Columba came to Iona from Ireland with twelve companions, and founded a monastery which grew to be an influential centre for the spread of Christianity among the Picts and Scots. Kings were crowned, and also buried, on Iona. The Book of Kells, a famous illuminated manuscript, is believed to have been produced by the monks of Iona in the years leading up to 800.[1] The Chronicle of Ireland was also produced at Iona until about 740.[citation needed] In 806, Vikings massacred 68 monks in Martyrs’ Bay, and Columba’s monks returned to Ireland, and a Monastery at Kells: other monks from Iona fled to the Continent, and established Monasteries in Belgium, France, and Switzerland.[2] In 825, St Blathmac and those monks who had returned with him to Iona, were martyred by a further Viking raid, and the Abbey burned. However, it was probably not deserted. Its continued importance is shown by the death there in 980 of Amlaíb Cuarán, a retired King of Dublin.

Benedictine abbey

Iona had been seized by the King of Norway, who held it for fifty years before Somerled recaptured it, and invited renewed Irish involvement in 1164: this led to the central part of the Cathedral being built. Ranald, Somerled’s son, now ‘Lord of the Isles’, in 1203 invited the Benedictine order to establish a new Monastery, and the first (Benedictine) Nunnery, on the Columban foundations. Building work began on the new Abbey church, on the site of Columba’s original church.[3]

A very early Nunnery, founded in the thirteenth century, of the Augustinian Order, (one of only two in Scotland – the other is in Perth) the Iona Nunnery, was established south of the Abbey buildings. Graves of some of the early nuns remain, including that of a remarkable Prioress, Anna Maclean, who died in 1543. Clearly visible under her outer robe is the ‘rochet’ a pleated surplice denoting the Augustinian Order. The Nunnery buildings were rebuilt in the fifteenth century and fell into disrepair after the Reformation.

The Abbey church was substantially expanded in the fifteenth century,[3] but following the Scottish Reformation, Iona along with numerous other abbeys throughout the British Isles were dismantled, and abandoned, their monks and Libraries dispersed.

Modern abbey

The original Benedictine Abbey was substantially rebuilt following the Duke of Argyll’s gift of all the buildings in 1899 to the Church of Scotland, which undertook extensive restoration of the site. In 1938, the inspiration of Reverend George MacLeod led a group which rebuilt the abbey, and founded the Iona Community. The surrounding buildings were also re-constructed during the 20th century by the Iona Community.This ecumenical Christian community continues to use the site to this day.

The site was much loved by John Smith, Leader of the Labour Party. After his sudden death in 1994, he was buried on Iona.[4] 

Leader:          The Cross


The bread……………


The pain


The joy………………


The Gospel……………


The love…………


The light……………


The darkness…………….

ALL          WE SHALL PERISH IT. Amen.


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The Birth of Jesus: Two Gospel Accounts􀀀

This is an online, self-paced tutorial written and narrated by Philip A. Cunningham, former Executive Director of Center for Christian-Jewish Learningat Boston College. It is a collaborative project of the Center and C21 Online.

The Death of Jesus: Four Gospel Accounts

By the end of the mini-course, a participant will have explored:

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Encountering Mark, Matthew, and Luke: The Synoptic


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Let the Scriptures enrich your spiritual life! In this course, you will explore the Gospels of Mark, Matthew and Luke. Two weeks will be devoted to each gospel. Articles by Dr. Philip A. Cunningham help participants gain an overview of each gospel’s features, learn about its setting, the evangelist who wrote it, and the community for which it was written. Videos featuring Fr. Michael J. Himes focus on key insights. Then, explore practices to use the gospel in prayer and reflection on your life. No previous experience in Scripture study is necessary.

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Saint Valentine

Historical facts

Numerous early Christian martyrs were named Valentine.[5] The Valentines honored on February 14 are Valentine of Rome (Valentinus presb. m. Romae) and Valentine of Terni (Valentinus ep. Interamnensis m. Romae).[6] Valentine of Rome[7] was a priest in Rome who was martyred about AD 269 and was buried on the Via Flaminia. His relics are at the Church of Saint Praxed in Rome,[8] and at Whitefriar Street Carmelite Church in Dublin, Ireland.

Valentine of Terni[9] became bishop of Interamna (modern Terni) about AD 197 and is said to have been martyred during the persecution under Emperor Aurelian. He is also buried on the Via Flaminia, but in a different location than Valentine of Rome. His relics are at the Basilica of Saint Valentine in Terni (Basilica di San Valentino).[10]

The Catholic Encyclopedia also speaks of a third saint named Valentine who was mentioned in early martyrologies under date of February 14. He was martyred in Africa with a number of companions, but nothing more is known about him.[11]

No romantic elements are present in the original early medieval biographies of either of these martyrs. By the time a Saint Valentine became linked to romance in the 14th century, distinctions between Valentine of Rome and Valentine of Terni were utterly lost.[12]

In the 1969 revision of the Roman Catholic Calendar of Saints, the feast day of Saint Valentine on February 14 was removed from the General Roman Calendar and relegated to particular (local or even national) calendars for the following reason: “Though the memorial of Saint Valentine is ancient, it is left to particular calendars, since, apart from his name, nothing is known of Saint Valentine except that he was buried on the Via Flaminia on February 14.”[13] The feast day is still celebrated in Balzan (Malta) where relics of the saint are claimed to be found, and also throughout the world by Traditionalist Catholics who follow the older, pre-Second Vatican Council calendar. February 14 is also celebrated as St Valentine’s Day in other Christian denominations; it has, for example, the rank of ‘commemoration’ in the calendar of the Church of England and other parts of the Anglican Communion.[14]


The Early Medieval acta of either Saint Valentine were expounded briefly in Legenda Aurea.[15] According to that version, St Valentine was persecuted as a Christian and interrogated by Roman Emperor Claudius II in person. Claudius was impressed by Valentine and had a discussion with him, attempting to get him to convert to Roman paganism in order to save his life. Valentine refused and tried to convert Claudius to Christianity instead. Because of this, he was executed. Before his execution, he is reported to have performed a miracle by healing the blind daughter of his jailer.

Since Legenda Aurea still provided no connections whatsoever with sentimental love, appropriate lore has been embroidered in modern times to portray Valentine as a priest who refused an unattested law attributed to Roman Emperor Claudius II, allegedly ordering that young men remain single. The Emperor supposedly did this to grow his army, believing that married men did not make for good soldiers. The priest Valentine, however, secretly performed marriage ceremonies for young men. When Claudius found out about this, he had Valentine arrested and thrown in jail.

There is an additional modern embellishment to The Golden Legend, provided by American Greetings to, and widely repeated despite having no historical basis whatsoever. On the evening before Valentine was to be executed, he would have written the first “valentine” card himself, addressed to a young girl variously identified as his beloved,[16] as the jailer’s daughter whom he had befriended and healed,[17] . It was a note that read “From your Valentine.”[16]



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