In today’s Mass, both the  first reading from the Book of Leviticus and the Gospel from Mark deal with leprosy. In Biblical times, not much was known about this disease and because of what it did to people, it was greatly feared. You can see this from Leviticus where it says, “He shall dwell apart, making his abode outside the camp.” So, when the leper is today’s Gospel approaches Jesus and he is “moved with pity…and…touched him,” this is much more daring and shocking than it might seem. Jesus always sees “the person” – the person who is ill, the person who is possessed, the person who is blind or lame or crippled. He doesn’t care what the external condition of the person is, he sees a human in need. Jesus’ approach to situations teaches us much; will we allow this to touch our hearts?

Recently, we have begun to close the Lower Church during the week when confessions are not being heard. This is a temporary action based on the theft of the monstrance, as well as times when the church has been used as a bathroom, a lunch room, and a place to hang out. Although we have security from 6:30 AM to 9 PM, it is impossible patrol 31st Street, 32nd Street, the Upper Church,
the Lower Church and the Peace Garden at every minute. Many persons who have abused the Lower Church are asked to leave, but then they go to another entrance and cause problems. Closing the Lower Church stops some of this abuse. We will continue to monitor this situation. I am sorry that we have had to do this.

-Fr. Andrew Reitz, O.F.M.