Life on the Margins: Who are our Lepers?
Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you, revile you, and defame you on account of the Son of Man. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy,
for surely your reward is great in heaven.
A leper came to him begging him, and kneeling he said to him, “If you choose, you can make me clean.” Moved with pity, Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, and said to him, “I do choose. Be made clean!” ~ Mark 1:40-41
Jesus was not a man for others. He was one with others. There is a world of difference in that. Jesus didn't seek the rights of lepers. He touched the leper even before he got around to curing him..” ~ Gregory Boyle, Tattoos on the Heart
Make no mistake, I believe that Healthcare Reform is important. Critical even. I do think the rights of those who are ill need to be taken seriously. I do believe we have a responsibility to look for policy to help those struggling with health issues that relegate them to the fringes of society: illnesses that move them into poverty.
But it is one thing to try to help from afar, and it is quite another to sit with, touch, and simply BE with the lepers of our time.
In the 80s and 90s, that meant those suffering from HIV/AIDS. I remember during the height of the AIDs crisis that my mother would go to hospitals to sit with victims of the disease. Others advocated for them from a distance, but she walked with them and loved them when so many did not. It was a time when families rejected their children who had AIDs.
It was a time when fear of the disease turned many in society and the government against them.
Jesus cared for the whole person. His healing was not just a spiritual act, but also one that addressed the physical needs of a person - even if that person was considered unclean due to their illness.
Even when they were excluded from society because of their illness.
Jesus blessed them and when we walk with them, we bless them as well.
Questions for thought: Who are the lepers of our time? Who is it that is kept on the fringes of society because of illnesses that prevent them from being fully integrated into the common life?
Pray: Ask God to lead you to walk with those whose illness keeps them on the margins.