Our readings this week continue the healing theme. Moses says to shun the leper for the sake of community safety. But Christ in the gospel heals a leper, changing the law of exclusion to one of inclusion. Lets pray that we may reach out to the sick and excluded in our midst and lets confess ways we fail in this..
I am a leper, deformed, shunned by everyone. Children run into houses when they see me coming. I’ve to shout “unclean” everywhere. Life is pain, suffering, lonliness, dirt, poverty. I wish I were dead. Someone please help me. Wait the holy teacher and healer I’ve heard about is coming. Jesus, the holy one of God, have pity on me, I shout. Shut up, Peter says, get away from him you foul thing. I shout louder. Jesus comes. I say please heal me. Jesus touches me, the first time anyone has done so in 20 years. And I can’t believe it, the awful sores are gone, I’m well. Thank God, now I can go home to my family and friends.
That’s the Gospel as told by the leper. Who now has a similar story; a person infected by aids, an old person sent to a home, the poor excluded from cosy middle-class homes? But in that cosy world there are lepers too, spiritual lepers insulated in big houses from their neighbours, and from God on Sunday, choosing to shop rather than keep holy the Sabbath. To these Christ brings a healing message too, repent and believe lest you perish forever.
Like Jesus’s day, many would retire into an escapist world, from all that would remind them of their deeper human duty: the aged, mentally ill, intellectually impaired, travellers, migrants. Similarly, we’d turn our face from God and deep spiritual demands. All we need is the pub, TV escapism, the culture of the lager lout and the premiership game. No room for the challenging message of Christ or our humanity. Like Dives in the gospel, we shun the beggar sitting at our gates. Yet when Dives in hell wanted the poor man’s help, it was too late. Now is the acceptable time, we’ll be judged by our charity at last.
Christians are to be our brother’s keeper; Christ’s healing presence to spiritual and physical lepers around us. As St.Theresa says: Christ has no hands on earth but ours, he depends on us to be his healing to a broken world. We mustn’t fail. For so many of God’s children out there need a healing touch, from the tramp to the abandoned street child. All are equal children of God, our brothers and sisters in Christ. We can’t pursue ruthless self-interest like Satan regardless of needy neighbours, faith or our salvation. Our Christian family includes the homeless, the refugee, the addict, the agnostic. The latter especially must know that worldly power is no use at last, only faith and charity carry us beyond the grave to glory.
For the key temptation we all face is that of Christ in the desert. Satan knew if he could get Christ to put his all into pursuit of selfish worldly power, like Adam and Eve, ignoring God and the needs of humanity, he had him. Jesus resisted Satan’s worldly wiles on our behalf, and chose to be the suffering servant of God others. So must we. Defying the world, Jesus reached out to the leper, his friend “in low places”, as the song says. We must have similar open hearts. For hard worldly values fade to dust and ashes at last leaving us empty before eternity, but to the Christ of all-healing love and faith, belongs the kingdom, the power and the glory forever and ever, amen. So as God’s people called to steadfast, real and caring charity towards the needy around us lets profess our faith.
Prayers of the faithful
And as the people of God lets pray for all our needs..
For our holy father and all church leaders, that they may live a message of inclusiveness and healing, and so bring the world to equal nourishment and care of all God’s children.
For civil leaders that they may promote ever more and better hospitals and caring institutions, os that all may feel equally valued in our country, especially the sick in mind or body..
For our youth, that they may choose to be the caring hands of Christ to all those suffering or in need in any way.
For ourselves in our homes, workplaces and society that we may not exclude anyone from our care, and treat all those in our household with great respect and nurturing healing love.
For migrants, especially those fleeing from persecution or exclusion in their countries, may they feel included and welcome in our country, so famed for its openness and hospitality.
For the dead, that healed of all the lingering effects of their sins, they may come with gladness to the open arms of the Lord and eternal bliss, with the help of our charitable prayers..
And we ask ask all these prayers through Christ who spent his life on earth healing the sick and reaching out to the downtrodden and marginalised, amen
Once I knew a young person with MS; she followed a trendy set with no time for God or others. Their philsophy was enjoy yourself, have sex, if others hurt you pay them back. When she became disabled they deserted her and their philosophy left her spiritually dead. They just used her. But Christian friends rallied round to visit, wash and take her out; from them she got new love and faith. She asked me to bring her communion and pray with her. Our faith must be like that; persevering with the alcoholic relative or troubled teenage child; not counting the cost of religious or charitable duty. Lets ask Mother Mary to help us have such open believing and charitable hearts..Hail Mary