From the desk of Fr Stephen Feb 14, 2021

From the desk of Fr Stephen

Our readings talk to us today about the disease of leprosy.  In ancient times, leprosy was seen as the most debilitating and worst of diseases; it hurt the body, the mind, and the spirit of a person.  Leprosy is a rotting of the flesh.  It is not pleasant to have or even be around someone with this disease, as you can imagine.  The look and smell of someone with leprosy is hideous.  After all, the flesh is rotting—what an awful thing for someone to have.  But the physical manifestations of the disease are only the beginning.  A person who had leprosy was made to feel God was punishing them for some sin they had committed, and so there was guilt and shame attached to the disease.  Furthermore, because the healthy did not want to get sick themselves, the leper was thrown out of society, never to be loved again.  That sounds like the worst thing that could happen.  You get sick, you are told it is your fault, and no one is there to comfort you in any way.  You try to survive alone until you die, and then they throw some dirt over the top of you.  God have mercy on them.

The disease of leprosy is still around today, although not nearly what it was like long ago.  But sometimes, this disease is spread even to people who have beautiful flesh.  The disease of leprosy can be attached to those society does not see as human.  There is a phrase associated with this feeling “I was made to feel like a leper.”  What does this mean? A person was an outcast of some sort.  They were seen as a person no one wanted to be around. 

There have been whole groups of people who consider themselves lepers, even though their skin is perfectly healthy.  Gays and lesbians have been made to feel like this over the years.  Somehow having a different sexual orientation make people feel out of the norm.  In fact, many have been made to feel they are living a reprehensible life and will be punished by God.  Thankfully, there have been inroads in this regard.  Jesus has come to give life to all people.  We are all in need of Redemption.  Sexual orientation has nothing to do with it.

In this month of February, we celebrate Black History.  Certainly, those with black skin have been marginalized and made to feel like lepers.  My heart goes out to you.  What does the color of our skin have to do with living a full life?  Apparently, everything.  How many intelligent, hardworking, industrious black people have been left behind and ostracized for no reason but their skin color?  How many good and holy people who have contributed so much to their neighborhood and country have been made to feel unwelcome at the table of the Lord because they do not fit into the accepted norm?  Volumes have been filled, and will continue to be filled, with stories of folks that have not been allowed to live the American dream just because their ancestors came from Africa.  As we continue with this month dedicated to Black Americans, may God be with us and bless us as only He can with His Mercy and Love.