Serve the Lepers

This Sunday we learn a lot about lepers. We learn about the way society must act around them in the Old Testament days. And then we see Jesus throw all that out to show love and compassion to a leper. He even went so far as to touch the leper in a sign of love and solidarity with him. He treated the leper like a human being.

It is in this radical example that we are taught by Jesus that we are to treat all people with love and compassion. We are to treat everyone as children of God. There is no one that we meet that is beneath us or less than us. We are all on the same level in the eyes of God.

Yet, Paul had to remind the church in Corinth to treat each other as equals, not to offend one another. Even in the few years after Jesus left this earth, the church had already started to view others outside and inside the church as lesser than themselves.

In the 1200’s, Saint Francis of Assisi saw this same kind of behavior in the church, and he preached against it. For most of his life he was considered a heretic by the church for preaching that the church should not consider itself above anyone. Instead, the church should be down in the gutters with the poor, homeless, and sick. Saint Francis routinely spent time with lepers and the outcasts tending to their needs while the church worked to build big edifices to themselves.

The “Princes of the Church” called Cardinals routinely spent the money given to the church on lavish things like the best wine, best homes, best art, and architecture. They ignored the needs of the poor and the lepers in their day. Saint Francis called attention to this and said that the church needed to abandon its desire for power and riches to help those who Jesus served.

As we near the Lenten season, we are called again to remember those most in need in our communities. We are encouraged to give alms and to help the poor, homeless, and the sick. It is not a time to false religious piety, but for real living of the Gospel message.

This year, I call on you to extend your hand and touch the lepers around you. Reach out your hand to the homeless. Spend time getting to know them, learn their stories, and feed and clothe them. Be real Christians!

Will you take this challenge?

Pax et Bonum,

Bishop Greer