Dominica Tertia Post Epiphaniam [Third Sunday after Epiphany]/International Holocaust Remembrance Day: January 27, 2019
Delivered by Most Reverend Roger LaRade, O.F.A.
Beloved Disciple Catholic Church, Toronto
© 2019 Roger LaRade
Romans 12: 16-21, Matthew 8: 1-13
Being touched by Jesus is to be healed of our sin
Today, January 27th, marks International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
On January 27, 2005 Holocaust survivors, former Red Army soldiers, leaders of more than 40 countries, and other people gathered in Oświęcim, Poland for the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp, the largest Nazi death camp. It was the marking of this anniversary which, later that same year, led the United Nations General Assembly to designate January 27 as an annual international day of commemoration to honour the victims of the Nazi era. This day has been observed as a day of commemoration in Europe since the year 2000.
Ten years ago, I issued a Pastoral Exhortation for International Holocaust Remembrance Day, outlining actions to be taken to mark and keep alive the memory of this horrendous sin in human history, and to pray for an end to all genocide. I want to recall those actions today. I wrote then of the appropriateness on January 27 or on the Sunday closest to January 27 that the following actions be taken, before or during Mass, either in whole or in part:
These acts of remembrance are made even more important today because a large percentage of Canadians and Americans do not know much about the Holocaust, and this likely can be expanded to all populations. An article in the New York Times this week reports that in a recent study “nearly half of Canadians cannot name a single concentration camp or ghetto that existed in Europe during the Holocaust”. The study concluded “that many Canadians do not know basic facts about the Holocaust, such as where it took place, how many Jews died, or the names of key people and places. Millennials, defined as people ages 18 to 34, were particularly uninformed.”
This highlights the need for more concerted efforts in education on the Holocaust and on the reality of genocidal acts, including the factors which pose a danger to all targets of hatred and discrimination. This is especially urgent given the rise in hate groups. The New York Times study reports that in Canada, 300 hate groups are currently operating, with most of them using the Internet to spread their message.
Some of these groups – perhaps many – would claim to be Christian. They are not Christian. They are far removed from the message of Christ.
In the Gospel of this Mass of the Third Sunday after Epiphany we hear that Jesus “stretched out his hand, touched him and said, “…be clean.” ”
The leper of Matthew’s gospel is each one of us. Representing us, the leper has faith in the healing presence of Jesus in his life and so, asks Jesus to heal him. We could say that the leper makes room for Jesus in his life. The Fathers of the Church speak of a “leprosy of the soul”, by this meaning sin.
The healing touch of Jesus is a touch that cleanses away our sins and sanctifies our being. It is a touch which opens us to the presence of the divine in our lives, in our selves. It is a touch that brings a change of heart. It is a touch that brings conversion. Such is the touch of Jesus.
Hatred is sin. Discrimination is sin. Jesus does not touch us to strengthen us in our sin. Jesus touches us to turn us away from our sin.
Forgetting about the Holocaust, ignoring past genocidal acts presents the danger of falling again into sin.
If we believe that Jesus desires to touch us, to convert us, then we must commit to remember our past sin and humbly remember that we are always in danger of falling into sin.
Let us pray our Church’s prayer for International Holocaust Remembrance Day:
O Lord Jesus Christ, through the intercession of St. Maximilian Kolbe, himself a victim of the Holocaust, we pray in memory of all the victims of the Holocaust and we beseech you to instill in human hearts the desire to end all discrimination and violence based on religion or ethnicity, and all genocide.
St. Maximilian Kolbe gave up his life for a total stranger and loved his persecutors, giving us an example of unselfish love for all people - a love rooted in Your love and inspired by true devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Immaculata.
Grant, O Lord Jesus, that we too may give ourselves entirely without reservation to the love and service of our Heavenly Mother in order to better love and serve all people in imitation of your humble servant St. Maximilian Kolbe. Amen.
 Pastoral Exhortation on the Observance of INTERNATIONAL HOLOCAUST REMEMBRANCE DAY. Most Rev. Roger LaRade, O.F.A., Église Catholique Eucharistique-Eucharistic Catholic Church, January 27 2009.
 See https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/24/world/canada/canadians-holocaust.html
 Scriptural quotations from the Roman Missal (1964: Catholic Book Publishing Co., New York).
 See Aemiliana Löhr, The Mass Through the Year, Volume One – Advent to Palm Sunday (1958: Longmans, Green & Co Ltd), p. 93.
 The Sunday Sermons of the Great Fathers, Volume One: From the First Sunday of Advent to Quinquagesima, translated and edited by M. F. Toal, D.D. (1964: Henry Regency Co., Chicago), p. 290.
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