The good news for the day June 24

Friday of the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time (376)

Once Jesus came down off the mountain, a large public became interesting in what he was doing. It was then that a leper approached, did him homage, and said, “Lord, if you want to, you can make me clean.” Jesus put out his hand, touched him, and said, “I will do it. Become clean!” His leprosy was cleansed right away. Jesus then commands him, “See that you don’t tell people until you show yourself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses prescribed; that will be proof for them.” (Matthew 8)

Like us, people then knew leprosy was contagious. Lepers were supposed to stay separate from the society. Circumstances have always created situations for exclusions from regular, or normal, society. Sometimes it is a physical contagion (like Ebola); sometimes it is “demon possession”—that is, addiction, insanity or something like anger management and crime. History shows us the included and the excluded have always existed—sometimes as common sense—sometimes as injustice.

This exclusion is sometimes more honored in the breach than the observance. Today we more often see gay people once excluded “come out of the closet.” We see retarded people no long shut into asylums, but welcomed in schools, and see nursing homes caring in a public, positive way for aged folks with dementia.

In this Gospel story, a shunned leper comes right up to this preacher; he expresses his faith in Jesus—“if you can….” The man’s faith has freed him from any “valley of the lepers” to approach the possibility of a cure. He “broke the law” of exclusion. He “came out.” Jesus responds by disregarding law Himself—touching the leper—and offering a cure that is to be certified by lawful authority. Jesus is a rule-breaker.

The Good News is faith, breaking away from and through constraints, and yet submission too when it seems needed. Have faith and be free!

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