Lent Approaches: Should we cast out the unclean or bath them in compassion

Lent is a few days away and the readings on this cold and snowy Sunday were about leprosy. The once dreaded disease is now treatable and there is no longer a need to shun people with leprosy, put them in isolated communities, or have them shout “unclean, unclean.” We like to imagine that times have changed and we would never be so uncaring or inhumane, but are we and should we be?

Racism and bigotry are diseases able to infect the young and the old alike. The virus enters trough the brain and infects the soul. It multiplies until where once existed love there is only hate. I often wonder if it is better to isolate the one that is infected to avoid unintentionally spreading the disease through social media contact or if it is better to engage and see if love and compassion will slow the infection or even cure the illness.

Racism and bigotry are far more dangerous than any disease of the body. It is a disease that kills the soul of the infected and takes away the human dignity of all it touches. We have much work to do to cure this plague on our communities, our country, and even our world.

Lent is a good time to pray, sacrifice, and offer our time to change the policies that support racism and bigotry and to join in solidarity with those that stand for justice.

Reading 1LV 13:1-2, 44-46

The Lord said to Moses and Aaron,
“If someone has on his skin a scab or pustule or blotch
which appears to be the sore of leprosy,
he shall be brought to Aaron, the priest,
or to one of the priests among his descendants.
If the man is leprous and unclean,
the priest shall declare him unclean
by reason of the sore on his head.

“The one who bears the sore of leprosy
shall keep his garments rent and his head bare,
and shall muffle his beard;
he shall cry out, ‘Unclean, unclean!’
As long as the sore is on him he shall declare himself unclean,
since he is in fact unclean.
He shall dwell apart, making his abode outside the camp.”


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