Homily February 25th, 2023

Saturday after Ash Wednesday – Lk 5:27-32

Today’s Gospel recounts for us the conversion of Levi the tax collector, also called Matthew. There is something beautiful in the way that, simply with a word, Levi gets up and follows Jesus. Likewise, the first thing Levi thinks to do is to hold a party with people who would otherwise be reluctant to dine with Jesus.

However, and particularly on Saturday, when we think about the Blessed Virgin Mary in a particular way, we’re struck by Christ’s words to the Pharisees and scribes: “Those who are healthy do not need a physician, but the sick do. I have not come to call the righteous to repentance but sinners.” One of Mary’s titles in the Litany of Loreto is precisely Salus infirmorum, Health of the Sick.

The title has very old origins: in the 4th century Saint Ephrem the Syrian called Mary “Hospital of sinners” and “the Joy of the sick,” and Saint Simon Stock called her “the Medicine of Sinners.” Of course, it is Jesus who gives healing and forgives sin, which is the worst sickness of all, but, as a good Mother, Mary intercedes for us and helps us to approach her Son. One author describes this beautifully: “Let us not fear that on account of the corruption of our wounds (our sins), she will not deign to take care of us: she is Our Mother; and as a natural mother has no horror of dressing the wounds of her son, so she, our heavenly Mother, will not refuse to dress and heal our wounds when we have recourse to her. Hence St. Bernard says: ‘O Mother of God, you have no horror of a sinner, however defiled he may be; if he sighs after you, you will save him from yielding to despair.’”[1]

It has been said that “there is no greater love than that of a mother for her only sick child.” While there are many Christians in the world, Mary loves each of us as if we were the only one. We can make our own the words of an old Irish prayer: “O Lady, Physician of the most miserable diseases, behold the many ulcers of my soul.”[2]

Let us ask for the grace, through the intercession of Mary, Health of the Sick, to approach her for help and healing, especially in this season of Lent.

[1] From Saint Alphonsus Liguori, Via Della Salute. The Way of Salvation. Meditations for Every Day in the Year, Translated … by the Rev. James Jones

[2] See Ronald Ramson’s Put Your Hands Into Hers.



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