One of the gifts of growing older, in my opinion, has been my
appreciation of history. As a student I didn't have a strong
interest in the subject but that changed when my sister introduced
me to her genealogy work. I was hooked the moment a human
story replaced the memorization of dates.
On Monday night, the local PBS channel aired a story about William Still, an African-American in Philadelphia who was instrumental in helping nearly 800 slaves escape to freedom before the Civil War. For 14 years, Still risked his freedom and life so that strangers could have the dignity and freedom they had never known but desperately wanted.
Today's Gospel shares Jesus' risky move, one that is connected to eternal freedom. He touches a leper, a member of the "untouchable" society, someone who, according to the First Reading, "shall dwell apart" from the rest of the community in order to keep the majority of people "clean." In that moment, Jesus erases the division between the "unworthy" and the "worthy." He makes clear that redemption and God's love is available to all.
So far, I haven't felt called by God to do something as bold or dangerous as William Still did, so I am left with these questions:
1. Who are today's "lepers"?
2. How can I -- in my ordinary, everyday encounters -- demonstrate God's dignity and love toward others?
I like your reflection. I agree that history makes more sense when one hears the human stories. Thanks for the comparison about risk and what my response might be.
Thanks, Renae, for the insightful reflection.
Renae, I appreciate your reflection that invites us to be a welcoming community, to set no one apart, be the person a leper, an African American, an immigrant...even an enemy! All are members of God's family. Each has a wonderful story to tell. Our genealogy is rooted in God.
Thanks, Renae, for your refreshing 'take' on this week's Gospel reading. You make it so personal.
Who are today's lepers? The homeless? The immigrant? The Muslim?
Have you ever felt like a leper?
thanks Renae. great questions.