From the Deacon’s Desk: Prayer and Inspirational Thoughts
In our gospel this week Jesus shows tremendous mercy and compassion to the man with leprosy who comes to him to be healed. During that time, it was unthinkable to touch a person with leprosy for it would make you ‘unclean’ as well. A person with leprosy was alienated and forgotten by society. Jesus did not just heal him – he paid attention to him, he showed great mercy toward him and he touched him. That was unthinkable during that time. Jesus wasn’t concerned with ‘accepted norms’ or ‘rules of behavior’ though; he was much more concerned with human suffering and bringing about healing in whatever way necessary. He recognized the great courage (faith) it took for this man to approach him, place himself at his feet and ask for healing. He saw the great suffering – emotionally, physically and spiritually – that this man was experiencing and he responded without hesitation. He offered new life and new hope to replace the man’s shame and brokenness.
This is a challenge in our society as well. The pandemic and COVID led us as a society to isolate people from one another. We may have had good reason for the actions taken, but the effects were still the same. People felt alone and disconnected from community. People who become seriously ill can feel this isolation as well. In isolation, it becomes easy to lose hope. Jesus calls us to reach out to those who are alone and isolated – for whatever reason – and lift them up through our presence and friendship. It is the presence of Christ himself that we are challenged to make evident.
As Vincentians, we are confronted daily by people who feel socially alienated because of their poverty, decisions they have made and life challenges they have. More than ever, we are seeing neighbors with needs well beyond what we have experienced before. Do we recognize the courage and trust it takes for them to reach out to us for help? When we are challenged by these difficult situations, do we look only to do what is expected and the norm? Or do we extend ourselves – and invest ourselves – in new and different ways to provide help that brings relief and hope? Do we connect ourselves emotionally to our neighbor in need seeking relief for them as we would for a brother and sister – for indeed they are!
Lord Jesus, help me to emotionally embrace my neighbor in need, seeking relief for their suffering as I would for a brother or sister – for indeed they are. Let me recognize in them the alienation they may feel because of their circumstances in life. Give me the courage to reach out to them with compassion and mercy. Grace me with the ability and willingness to move beyond the challenges to help, finding ways to move them forward even as it stretches me. Grace me with humility, trusting in you for the wisdom and persistence to find relief and hope for those I serve. We pray all of this in your name. Amen