The Lepers Among Us
Then think of all the people in our city, in our country, and in our world who are the “exiles” of today. Exiles are those who experience discrimination, are the victims of stereotypes, are socially excluded, isolated, or bound by having to keep things secret. In Jesus’ day, these were the persons isolated by laws and customs, by culture and tradition. Today the “unclean” might be those who feel unwanted and unloved. They don’t “belong” here—in this group, in this school, in this country, in this family.
Don’t we all know those feelings?
Our hope is in the reassurance that Jesus notices, sees, cares and does something about it. He heals the lepers, and the healing is more than physical. Jesus told the leper to tell no one what had happened, but the newfound freedom results in incredible, unbounded JOY.
We too notice, see and if we care we can do something about the lepers among us.
For example, I can start with myself. I can pray that when I feel “unclean” or unloved, God will heal me. Sometimes I doubt my own capacity to be loved and be lovable. God can help there! In Genesis we read, “God looked at everything God had made and found it very good.”
I can stop being the person who makes others feel like an outcast. I can pray for all who are feeling isolation and social exclusion. I can name the discrimination or exclusion and, like the prophets, make it known to others. I can demand that it STOP.
I can also spend time with someone who is feeling unclean, unwanted, and unloved. I can learn new things about the persons who experience exclusion. I can come to understand some of the common reasons why the person is experiencing “exile.” I can communicate God’s love for the person by listening and learning about their situation. I might even have the strength to advocate and work for social change.