MySpiritualAdvisor.com’s Mark Kurowski reflects on the rejected and the outcast. Why are we a part of that crew? What does leprosy have to do with that? How is Jesus the answer? Listen to this podcast of his reflection on the readings for the 28th Sunday of Ordinary Time to find out. Please read Luke 17:11-19. #GreatPreaching #Forgiveness #Sermons #Homilyhelper #Leper
For MySpiritualAdvisor.com, this is Mark Kurowski with a reflection for Sunday, 10/13/2013 The 28th Sunday of Ordinary Time.
Please pause this audio and read Luke 17:11-19.
A friend of mine recalled a story one day about a girl we knew that lived along the way we walked to school. Her name was Michelle. Michelle was considered one of the “cool” or “popular” girls. My friend and I were, let us say, not in that category. He related to me that one day, on the way home from junior high, he passed Michelle’s house and she just happened to be on her front porch.
“Hey, come over here,” said Michelle to my friend.
He stopped, mostly out of shock, and went toward her hesitantly.
“Do you think you are good enough for me?” she asked with a superior tone to her voice, he related.
Knowing that he was not part of the “cool” crowd, he said the truth, “No, not really.”
Then she got up to him really close so that their bodies almost touched and she said, “Well, I KNOW that I am good enough for you, so you should probably just get out of here.”
As he turned to walk away, she laughed.
When I asked him how he felt, he said, “like I was a leper.” Here we are, in our late forties, and he could still feel the sting of being categorized, stigmatized and ostracized.
A Reading from Leviticus:
The leper who has the disease shall wear torn clothes and let the hair of his head hang loose, and he shall cover his upper lip and cry, ‘Unclean, unclean.’ He shall remain unclean as long as he has the disease; he is unclean; he shall dwell alone in a habitation outside the camp. Lev. 13:45-46.
It seems that we all know in some small way the humiliation of being leprous. That is, we all know what it is like to be singled out for something for which we have no control and bear the signs of it. Whether it is being a devoted Christian in a sea of secularism, a geek in the middle of the popular crowd, being overweight, being out of style, snorting when we laugh, being African American in a white neighborhood, it can be anything that sets us apart.
Most often, I get students who come to me to tell me that they have just discovered that they have same sex attraction. When they do, the most important thing that they want to know is this: does God still love me?
The passage today from the Gospel of Luke says a lot about God and his love. We are in a string of chapters in Luke that follow the verse in Chapter 9:51, “he set his face to go to Jerusalem.” This passage is a natural continuation of that passage. When Christ set his face to go to Jerusalem, it means that he had given firm purpose to give up his life so that we might have eternal life. It means that he decided that he loved the world enough that he was going to go through with letting the people he loved kill him.
In one of my favorite passages of Scripture, Romans 5:8 it says, “God shows his love for us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.” On the way to his death he teaches about being faithful. He sends out seventy and teaches us how to be his disciples. He tells us of the forgiveness of God through the prodigal sons and heals a crippled woman and makes a Samaritan our neighbor. If it were me, I would be obsessing about how I was going to handle the pain of death. Not Christ. All along the way, Jesus does things that are extending the hand of God to those who need him.
Here, in today’s reading, we have lepers, people who were ceremonially and physically unclean. They huddled in groups at the fringe of society to beg for their existence because they were unworthy to serve society. Usually they asked for alms, but the notoriety of Jesus made its way even to them, maybe especially to them. They were to stand at the edge of society and yell, “Unclean, unclean,” declaring for the world their humiliation.
But on this day, Luke says, “ten lepers, who stood at a distance and lifted up their voices,” did not yell, “unclean, unclean.” No, on this day, they yelled, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” It is to these unclean ones that Jesus tells them like it is nothing to go show themselves to the priest, which is the sign that they are going to be made clean and allowed to return to society. To the outcast, Jesus brings healing and a gateway to acceptance.
So, the answer to my friend who thought he wasn’t good enough, to the person struggling with their weight, to those who are out of style, annoying, imperfect in any way, or wondering if God loves them, the answer is simple: yes. We are all loved by God regardless of the circumstances that the world throws at us. We are all loved by God enough to be healed and given a new pathway into acceptance and validation. Where is that pathway in your life? Where is God healing you, only if you were to ask for his mercy?
On this day, Christ is inviting you to go show yourself to the priest. On this day, he is inviting you healing of your heart, your soul, your mind, your body. Throw your cares upon Christ and he will heal you. Think of what it is that is weighing you down, hurting you, vexing you, making you less than who you can be, whatever it is, give it to Christ and then turn, like the one who returned and give him praise. Amen? Amen.
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