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Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

February 11, 2024

Today’s Invitation

Today we invite you to explore healing in the Bible and through decolonization with the help of Frantz Fanon; engage the Catholic Church’s use of abuse and colonization; and embody healing and decoloniality with the help of anticolonial folk artist Chuquimamani-Condori and Decolonize This Place.


Commentary by Ben Stegbauer

Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time


Reading 1

Leviticus 13:1-2, 44-46

YHWH told Moses and Aaron:
“When one of you has a swelling, an inflammation,
or a shiny spot on your skin that could develop into an infectious skin disease,
you must go to a priest, either to Aaron or one of Aaron’s heirs.
“If you are diseased and ceremonially unclean,
the priest must pronounce you ceremonially unclean.

“When you have an infectious skin disease,
you must wear torn clothes,
let your hair become unkempt, and cover the lower half of your face
and cry out, ‘Unclean! Unclean!’
As long as you have the infection you remain ceremonially unclean.
You must live alone.
You must live outside the camp.”

Responsorial Psalm

Psalm 32

Response: You are my shelter; You will protect me from trouble and
surround me with songs of deliverance.

Happy are those whose fault is taken away, / whose sin is covered.
Happy those whose sin Our God does not count, / in whose spirit there is no guile.
R: You are my shelter; You will protect me from trouble and
surround me with songs of deliverance.

Then I acknowledged my sin to You, / and did not cover my guilt.
I said, “I confess my faults to You,” / and You took away the guilt of my sin.
R: You are my shelter; You will protect me from trouble and
surround me with songs of deliverance.

Rejoice and be glad in Our God, you just / exult, all you upright of heart.
R: You are my shelter; You will protect me from trouble and
surround me with songs of deliverance.

Reading 2

1 Corinthians 10:31-11:1

Whatever you eat or drink
— whatever you do — do it all for the glory of God.
Give no offense, whether to Jew or to Greek
or to the church of God,
just as I try to please everyone in any way I can.
I do this by seeking not my own advantage,
but that of the many, that they may be saved.
Imitate me as I imitate Christ.

Gospel

Mark 1:40-45

A person with leprosy approached Jesus, knelt down and begged,
“If you are willing, you can heal me.”
Moved with pity, Jesus stretched out a hand, touched the person with leprosy,
and said, “I am willing. Be cleansed.”
Immediately the leprosy disappeared,
and the person with the disease was cured.
Jesus gave a stern warning and sent the person off.
“Not a word to anyone,” Jesus said,
“Go off and present yourself to the priest
and make an offering for your healing as Moses commanded,
as a testimony to the religious authorities.”
But the person who had been healed went off
and began to proclaim the whole matter freely,
making the story public.
As a result it was no longer possible for Jesus to enter a town openly,
and Jesus stayed in lonely places.
Even so, people kept coming to him from all directions.


The Inclusive Lectionary © 2022 FutureChurch. All rights reserved. 

The inclusive language psalms:
Leach, Maureen, O.S.F. and Schreck, Nancy, O.S.F., Psalms Anew: A Non-sexist Edition
(Dubuque, IA: The Sisters of St. Francis, 1984).
Used with permission.

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Explore

Healing and decolonization


Three Sundays in a row we have read Gospel passages involving “healing” stories. They often feel so simple, and so cut and dry: there was an illness that was healed, and Jesus praises the person for their faith. This reading goes the same way with the slight wrench that Jesus asks the man he “made clean” to not tell anyone else. The man unfortunately doesn’t oblige and Jesus turns into such a celebrity that he feels the need to escape for a couple months or so. 

What strikes me here is the context of the Gospel with the reality of the first reading. How, when placed together, perhaps the reality of the first perhaps inhibits the possibility of healing in the second. In the first reading we are shocked by this scene that is set up of a priest yelling “unclean! unclean!” It seems The Vatican, or whoever put the lectionary together as it is wanted to juxtapose this with the story of Jesus “making clean” a man with leprosy. This juxtaposition I find interesting because in many ways it leaves a lot lacking. And it leaves a lot lacking in a way that is all too common and familiar. 

This juxtaposition made me reflect a lot on what it means to heal. We live within a church and tradition that has caused immense violence. It has called many people unclean, sold enslaved people, professed racism and antisemitism, demanded that women be oppressed, colonized indigenous people of America, and then threw them into violent and murderous boarding schools. We know all this. And sometimes the Vatican will say “I’m sorry.” Maybe they’ll give a little money and they’ll change their official position on things like slavery and the Doctrine of Discovery. A simple change of course like the Gospel story today. The Church has created over and over again many people like the man in the story today, that is, people in need of healing because of the hands of the Church. So I’m left with one simple question: what does this healing look like? What can it even look like? What does it mean to be healed from the reality of sickness, but still sit within the after of the trauma of infection, exclusion, oppression, and cultural genocide? The man in the story today runs off telling people that Jesus is miraculous, but what does the man’s life look like in the following years? 

This is a question that also interests me as a member of The Just Word. A Catholic project that is supposed to be life-giving and liberative. How do we be life-giving and liberative in the aftermath of the Church? While I am not trying to cast any shame or blame or tell people to run from the Church, I find it important to reflect on how that context affects the way in which we approach a concept like healing.  

So what does healing look like? Perhaps psycho-theorist Frantz Fanon is best to speak here. In his book The Wretched of the Earth (1961) Fanon describes the colonial subject in Africa: the people refused personhood by the colonizers. And thus Fanon then also describes the process of decolonization, the vital process of these people reclaiming their personhood in spite of the colonizers: 

“Decolonization, which sets out to change the order of the world, is clearly an agenda for total disorder. But it cannot be accomplished by the wave of a magic wand, a natural cataclysm, or a gentleman’s agreement. Decolonization, we know, is an historical process: In other words, it can only be understood… as we can discern the history-making movement which gives it form and substance” (2).

Thus healing, like decolonization, and also one of the ultimate goals of decolonization, takes on a multifaceted and revolutionary category in and of itself. Healing in its fullest sense is a complete and total reorganization of society, first through the process of disorder. This means disordering entire social relations and economies through the decolonial pursuit. This could look like many things: reappropriating land (see Land Back movements), deconstructing private property, reparations, complete autonomy of self-governed nations, an end to the exploitation of the global south, supporting the Palestinian people, and more. It is a disordering of the deepest and most foundational aspects of our society. A disordering and reordering that genuinely addresses and confronts the harm that colonialism of all forms has done to this world and its people. I would recommend reading Fanon’s entire book of course. It inspired and gave guidance to many people and movements across the world including Malcom X and the Black Panthers. 

Commentary by Ben Stegbauer


Ben Stegbauer currently resides in Southern Ohio and works in a low level health care job, and other than that loves to walk and run around. He is a recruiter for the Just Word and dreams of starting a free restaurant one day.
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Engage Catholic Social Teaching


There is not much within the Catholic tradition that speaks to this kind of decolonial healing. For obvious reasons, because of the way the Catholic Church has relied on colonization for evangelization and resource exploitation. There is an aspect of healing within the Catholic Church that is somewhat replicated in the decolonial struggle – decolonial struggles we could say are actually much older than the Catholic Church, even if they didn’t use the language of colonization before. This shared principle is the simple reality of radical transformation. 

Fanon says that “decolonization is truly the creation of new [people]. But such a creation cannot be attributed to a supernatural power: The ‘thing’ colonized becomes a man through the very process of liberation” (2). This is the realization that true liberation also leads to anthropological transformation. It is the realization that white personhood relies on the non-personhood of the colonized subject. And thus to give personhood to all people is to redefine personhood based on these realities. Fanon goes on to say that this process can also be summed up easily within the simple line: “the last shall be first” (2). 

It feels now that we have gotten far from where we started in all of this. We have gotten far away from the healing story we started with. Maybe this is because in the end, if we are to look for a Gospel symbol, decolonial healing is closer to something like resurrection rather than these individual stories of healing.  

But this decolonial healing is what liberationists like to believe the person of Jesus strove for. A radical transformation of society through to the end. Afterall, it is Jesus who also said “the last shall be first, and the first last” (Matt 20:16). It is through this reordering of society that people can experience healing. 

To put it somewhat cheesily perhaps it is here in this “Engage” section that I am finding myself grappling with the reality of what it means to seek out societal healing within the context of the massive harms of the church. Reading Fanon and other decolonial authors is harrowing, and it forces us to realize that any healing also involves nearly complete societal reordering. The authors of the past two Sundays have also pointed this out. Be it through Craig Ford’s appeal that we wrestle with the demons that should be exorcized, or Marcus Hyde’s demonstration of a new understanding of illness as societal rather than biological. It is through putting all three of these sources together that we can reach a more complete understanding of what “healing” can look like. Of what “healing” should look like.

Engage



A Community

Decolonize this Place

Decolonize this Place is a collective of people searching for ways to address and combat the ongoing settler colonialism throughout the country. Centered in New York City they seek to organize and educate around every modern iteration of settler colonialism and neocolonialism. The materials section of their website is especially helpful for the zines and resources they have.

Art

DJE by Chuquimamani-Condori

The musical artist Chuquimamani-Condori is a Bolivian American artist who makes “folk” music using musical sounds, rhythms, and techniques from their home Andean region, and electronic music, having released music under the name Elysia Crampton and E + E. This past year they released an album under their Aymara name: Chuquimamani-Condori. The album DJ E was one of my favorite albums last year. It sounded new in a way I had not felt in a long time. It feels like a sonic rebirth in many ways. Perhaps this is because of the way they build waves of sound and crescending production.

Here is a description of their music from an interview a couple years back: 

“Crampton has defined her work as “folk music,” foregrounding its primordial meaning: music tied to a constant (re)definition of identity through memory, history, and past/future continuity. From early times to the present, evocations of huayno, cumbia, saya, caporal, and Huancayo styles have helped our Andean community, living in and out of diaspora, thrive. Their music made me feel seen. It made me want to heal the wounds that colonialism had inflicted on me my whole life — wounds I previously lacked the capacity to see.” 

Embody