A Penitent Blogger

Mindful of my imperfections, seeking to know Truth more deeply and to live Love more fully.

Quid sum miser tunc dicturus? Quem patronum rogaturus? Cum vix iustus sit securus?
Recordare, Iesu pie, Quod sum causa tuae viae: Ne me perdas illa die...

Friday, January 11, 2008

Welcoming the leper

In today’s Gospel (Luke 5:12-16), our Lord cures a man of leprosy.

Then he ordered him not to tell anyone, but
“Go, show yourself to the priest
and offer for your cleansing what Moses prescribed;
that will be proof for them.”

Until relatively recently, when effective treatments were established, lepers were quarantined from society, because people feared getting this repugnant disease.

There always had been instances where apparent cases of leprosy would clear up. In ancient Judaism, priests were the ones who would welcome these cured lepers back into the community.

Today, physical leprosy is a treatable disease, but there are also other kinds of lepers: not people who are helpless victims of a disease, but people who choose to hold onto repugnant doctrines or moral practices. Communities of faith understandably wish to keep these people at a distance, lest they be associated with the obstinately-held profound errors or grave and manifest sins of these individuals.

Yet, while we must be very clear not to associate ourselves with such sins and errors and to be truthful about such sins and errors, as Christians we must also reach out to these individuals with compassion, as Christ did to the lepers of old and pray fervently for their conversion.

Then, when they have been converted, they can and should be welcomed back warmly, through the ministry of the priest in sacramental confession, into our loving midst.

We need to be clear about what is right and what is wrong. We also need to careful about the appearance of condoning what is morally or doctrinally repugnant.

Yet we must always and everywhere follow the example of Christ and reach out with compassion to those who hold onto what is morally and doctrinally repugnant. We must pray for them and when the grace of conversion takes root within them, welcome them with love into our community of faith.