•2 Kings 5:14-17 • 2 Timothy 2:8-13 • Luke 17:11-19•
Weekly Scripture Readings: 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Illness or disease is both a biological and a sociological condition. The blind, deaf, paralyzed or infected are unable to live as other children of God live.
This was so evident in yesterday’s victims of Hansen’s disease. This debilitating disease was commonly known as “leprosy.” Until scientists developed an effective treatment for it, “lepers” were shunned as dirty, repulsive and contagious. You may have visited the Hawaiian island of Molokai. On that island the serene peninsula of Kalaupapa was selected as a natural place to isolate “lepers.” Over the course of a century 8,000 people were exiled there.
The biblical Hebrew word translated as “leprosy” is not what modern medicine calls Hansen’s disease. The ten lepers “who called out in a loud voice, Jesus, Master, have pity on us” did not have Hansen’s disease. Because of some repugnant skin disease, they were exiled and unable to enjoy life fully as other people did.
Our gospel text today makes it clear. Jesus of Nazareth was concerned about people, including those excluded from society for any reason. He enabled those on the margins to live with dignity.
His response to the ten people calling out to him was a proclamation of good news about “the reign of God.” The “ten lepers” are symbolic of the new world that God wants for everyone!
It is October and certainly time for us to turn our attention to the forthcoming elections. For months we have been inundated with empty words, ideological bias and calls for party loyalty. The elections challenge us to make judgments about voting that flow from our understanding of God and gospel. The healing of the “ten lepers” is about restoring all of us to live in right relationship with God and with God’s creatures.
I have followed the primary and general elections closely. I no longer have any doubts. I used a simple process of observation and elimination to make my decision. My measuring scale was this. Will this person’s agenda promote living in right relationship with God and with God’s creatures. It is clear to me that only one set of candidates comes close.
It remains unclear to me if the agenda of the Green Party’s Jill Stein will promote living in right relationship with God and with God’s creatures. For a time the Johnson-Weld ticket of the Libertarian Party impressed their agenda would promote living in right relationship with God and with God’s creatures, especially their positions on military spending and climate change. As their campaign progressed, that became less clear. Neither Greens nor Libertarians can win so I will not vote for either.
I hear a total absence of Gospel values in Donald Trump and his agenda. His speeches tell me he is “a racist” and even worse, an extreme narcissist. “Narcissism” is a mental disorder that holds a grandiose view of one’s own talents, and is motivated by a craving for admiration. Everything he says and does tells me Donald Trump is about himself, and has not a hint of what it means to live in right relationship with God and with God’s creatures. I will not vote for him.
I think political dynasties are not healthy for our nation. However I think Hillary Clinton, because of her Methodist faith, and her running mate Tim Keane, because of his Catholic faith, both are more likely than any of the others, to promote living in right relationship with God and with God’s creatures. Because of this I will vote for them.
All of which takes me back to this gospel text about “ten lepers.” Jesus of Nazareth was concerned about people, including those excluded from society for any reason. He enabled those on the margins to live with dignity. He proclaimed and calls us to embrace the new world that God wants for everyone. His agenda is about living in right relationship with God and with God’s creatures. The “ten lepers” are symbolic of “God’s new reality” emerging in our world. The healing of the “ten lepers” confronts us with a challenge as we vote in this election year.