Lepers….who are they in today’s society? In Matthew’s Gospel, a real leper finds his way to Jesus, kneels and says: Lord, if you choose, you can make me clean. Such boldness is rewarded with three words: I do choose. The man is immediately cured of his disease and is warned by Jesus to say nothing to anyone but to go and show himself to the priest and to make the offering as prescribed by Moses.
This man is unnamed. He is an outcast. In today’s world we proclaim that people are unclean too, that they do not deserve the same rights and privileges as the rest of “us”. In a landmark decision today, the Supreme Court of the United States of America granted the right for same-sex marriage to happen throughout the nation. In the days and months ahead, we will see arise the best and worst of people as they argue what this means. In decades some people may have forgotten that this was not the norm. For those who have fought hard and suffered greatly, this moment will never be erased from memory.
On this same day, millions around the world have listened to President Obama sing Amazing Grace at the funeral of the pastor gunned down in South Carolina. African Americans are still seen as unclean by many, as undeserving of the same rights and freedoms as white people. Instead of embracing our differences and celebrating our diversity, we fall prey to fear.
While all this was going on this afternoon, I was watching the new Pixar film Inside Out, all about emotions such as fear, anger and sadness. Joy had a hard time reigning them in throughout the film. I think that is sort of true in life too. Emotions like joy find it hard to bloom when everyone wants to stamp them out. Each emotion has its place but the film showed that they need to work together to bring about the best results. When that happens love wins.
I think this is true for real life too. When fear gets the best of us, we forget to love the other, the unclean, the one who is different. When we forget, we make ourselves unclean because our hearts our leprous, decayed and infected. This has been an emotional day for sure. Make me clean, Lord, if you choose.
Who is your leper that needs your love? What emotions prevent you from saying Make me clean?