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SUNDAY SCRIPTURES FOR FEB. 11 | It is our job to welcome back those who were separated by sickness or brokenness

What can each of us do to make our lives look more like the life of Jesus?

The combination of readings on the Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time from the Book of Leviticus and the first chapter of Mark gives us some formation and direction about the skills from Jesus’ teaching and example.

In the Book of Leviticus, those who have leprosy are instructed to separate themselves from society, warn anyone who comes near them and set up their own separate community. When the leper comes to Jesus, he is given the gift of healing and the gift of being restored to the community to which he used to belong. It is our job, in an unmistakable way, to bring those who are separated by sickness or brokenness back within the community. We can no longer allow fear or insecurity to keep us from doing what Jesus told us to do. But how do we get the courage to act as Jesus did?

Sometimes it helps to recall our own experiences of being excluded from groups or communities. It often starts very early in life. Others begin to make fun of and use us as the scapegoat for their own insecurity and fear. We tend to fight against or make fun of those who are different so that we don’t have to deal with our own insecurities. Do you remember how it felt to be excluded? Do you remember what it feels like to be unable to be yourself, out of fear of being ridiculed? Why would we ever do that to someone else when we know the pain and suffering that we’ve experienced?

Jesus spent a lot of His time acknowledging, dining with and respecting the ostracized groups of the time. He valued the respect and dignity of other human beings above some of the religious laws of His time, so much so that He was willing to touch the sick, even though the law said He was then impure. Jesus was willing to sit down at dinner with those a respectable religious person would not even acknowledge. Jesus went to amazing lengths to make sure those who were ostracized experienced community and belonging. What can each of us do to make our lives look more like the life of Jesus?

I guarantee you there is someone in each of our lives with whom we have some isolation, distance or broken relationship. We don’t have to wait until the other person apologizes or admitted that they did something wrong. It is our job to make the first step in faith and love. What can we do in each of those relationships to begin to heal the brokenness? The other person may not be willing to make any steps toward reconciliation, but that shouldn’t matter. We should do whatever work it takes so that our hearts are pure and loving toward that person, no matter what they’ve done to us in the past. Jesus is very clear that we are to love our enemies and to do good to those who hate us.

During our upcoming Lenten season, we will have plenty of opportunities for renewal and repentance. This is more than just a season to give up beer and chocolate. What new habit will we begin to practice? What new act of love and service will we commit ourselves to so that the kingdom of God is at hand today in each of our lives?

Father Donald Wester is pastor of All Saints Parish in St. Peters.

From the Archive Module

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