Friday, June 30, 2017

Our culture seems to be obsessed with the living dead. We are bombarded with media that include sparkling vampires, lovable ogres, and even battles with the “Walking Dead.” (Click the link to read more)

Lectionary: 375

Our culture seems to be obsessed with the living dead.  We are bombarded with media that include sparkling vampires, lovable ogres, and even battles with the “Walking Dead.”   I can’t help but wonder if part of the inspiration for the idea of a zombie came from that horrible and misunderstood disease of biblical notoriety: leprosy.  These men and women were often treated as if they were the worst of sinners as if their soul was as dark as night itself.   So filled with pestilence and hatred that it somehow had boiled over and seeped out their skin into the world itself.   Not understanding the microscopic world of hygiene that we now have the privilege of entertaining, these unfortunate souls were pushed out of town and into the worst of conditions to live in seclusion.

Saint Francis of Assisi had an almost uncontrollable revulsion from the leper.  When he saw someone suffering from this affliction he would go the other way or avoid them on the other side of the path.   One day as he meditated on the Scriptures he came face to face with a man in need.  Seeing the image of the suffering Jesus before him, Francis dismounted and approached the leper, kissing him on the cheek.   His revulsion gave way to love and mercy.   He clothed the man in his own rich clothing and went on his way happy and whistling.   Both Francis and the leper had received a gift that had freed them of the social stigmas of their time and brought immense joy into the lives of both.

That’s the beautiful thing about the image of Jesus healing the leper in the gospel today.  We often forget in our world of overly sexualised imagery where intimacy is broken down into simple acts of gratification, just how powerful the touch of another human can be.   To those of us who experience handshakes daily and hugs from our families, we often fall into a rut of habit.  Those gestures become “old hat” and we do them without emotion or feeling.  To those who have been ostracized by society these simple gestures become amazing moments of connection.   In the movie the Martian, we see the breakdown of the astronaut as he is reunited with his comrades.   That moment when they touch, the first human touch he has had in years, breaks my heart every time.

That’s why it is important to realize that Jesus performed a much greater miracle than just the curing of a disease.   Yes, curing a disease is amazing!  It’s miraculous!   It doesn't compare to the true mercy of God that not only heals but also unites.   Not only breaks down physical barriers but mental ones as well.   It freed this man from the constraints of a society that had turned its back on him.   A society that tried to strip of his dignity to which the King of the Universe gave an emphatic no.   You can’t take dignity from the other, it comes from God.  He is waiting for each of us to reach out with our faith.   Yes, some of us need physical healing, and God can do that.   I think all of us are the victims of many spiritual and cultural stigmas that separate us from one another.   

Are you feeling like your dignity has been stolen?   Or is someone trying to cover it up with lies, abuse or neglect?   Jesus is the answer.   He can take all your broken pieces, and not only put them back together, but in the process reveal the masterpiece of who you truly are.   All you have to do is give Him the chance.  He is there for you in the Sacraments, in the Scriptures, and in the silence of your heart.   Do you take the time to encounter Him?  To learn about Him?  Receive Him frequently and reverently?   You can be freed from all that holds you back, all you need is to be like Abraham and have faith.

His servant and yours,
Brian Mullins

"Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my rock, and my redeemer. - Psalm 19:14