Sunday, April 23, 2017
The Suffering Community
There are communities which no one wants to be a member. Sometimes we even go so far as to separate those communities from what we consider to be the mainstream community we inhabit. The 17th chapter of Luke tells us about a community of sufferers no one wanted in their midst. This particular community was made up of ten lepers. In those days lepers were thought to be highly contagious and were therefore forced out of the towns and villages where the healthy people lived. These outcasts ended up living a homeless existence in camps and caves inhabited by other lepers.
Of course, we have come a long way since those days set forth in the New Testament. Yet, still it often seems that their are certain communities which end up being so set apart from the mainstream of life that we forget about their existence. The homeless community is certainly one of the more obvious ones in today's culture. But, it is also true that those homebound because of age or illness, those who spend long weeks and maybe even months in hospitals and rehab facilities, and the institutionalized form communities that often exist under the radar. As soon as we allow ourselves the freedom to look, we begin to see all around us these people who are bound not by a choice, but by the circumstances of their life.
Jesus always seemed to see the marginalized, the forgotten, and the suffering ones of His day. He not only saw them, but He reached out to them with a compassion that had the power to change their lives. This is evident with the ten lepers He met on the road to Jerusalem as well as others like them whom He encountered. They were never invisible to Him. He saw them. He spoke to them. He treated them as people of value. They were included in His community and to follow Him means making them a part of ours as well.