Prisoners Sunday..DSP for all who are imprisoned within the judicial system..for their families..& for their victims..
“..now I know that there is no God in all the earth except in Israel” a moment of realisation for Naaman the leper in 1st reading immediately after his cure / his release from isolation punishment of his disease..however, a reminder Part 1 of his journey to healing & conversion was so like..too like..yours & mine.. ..he threw a tempter tantrum when he was asked to bathe 7 times in the Jordan..why not the Ouse?..& why not just once? "what is this God of yours playing at!” he cried with the sulk of a “poor me” & throwing his dummy out of the pram..“ I want it & I want it now!”..
“..the leper went down..” & down & down in action & in mood.. ; Lord have mercy “..as Elisha had told him to do..” blind faith goes for it.. ; Christ have mercy “..now I know..” now in this sacrament of the present moment.. ; Lord have mercy May Almighty God have mercy on us, forgive us our sins & bring us to everlasting life. Amen.
..if you travel over M62 highest motorway in UK at border, if you are travelling out of God’s own county, you see a stone plinth with red rose on it [Samaria]; as you come back home, preferably same day, your heart lifts as you see white rose, signifying a return to the promised land [Galilee]. Jesus travelled along border two dimensional ministry, & as he entered one village, in Samaria or Galilee we are not told, ten lepers came to meet him, a borderline moment for them ; their infirmity/disease meant they were excluded from home/village/& faith community..had to ring a bell to warn people off so that the so called fit & healthy kept well clear of contagion “Jesus, Master, take pity on us” albeit excluded from practice of faith they knew him, who he was & what he could do..they had no rights, no one to speak up for them, like migrants/refugees on our UK border; a statue blessed by Pope 2wks ago “angels unaware” speaks volumes about us as land & faith custodians & they as angels; St Gregory Benedictine monk & Pope 1400yrs ago noticed white faced youngsters in slave markets of Rome; asked his bishops who they were.. “angles “ Anglo Saxons..he said “not angles but angels” so began the English Mission, monk-migrants bringing Christ to our country; todays migrants “angels unaware” in them we meet Christ..you & I too, angels, or have we grown backwards into angles I wonder?.. accessories to a Border Agency that excludes/imprisons rather than welcomes/sets free.. extraordinarily in gospel Jesus didn’t heal lepers “go & show yourselves to the priests” & what would you & I have done but stand up to him, grittily attempting to barter a cure there & then..remind him we are excommunicated not allowed to take Communion or the Sacraments, married in a registry office “a happy marriage but disowned by my Church, Fr Bede”..”go show yourselves to the priests” priest issued sick note & in serious cases death warrant, & if if you found yourself cured, he’d issue a “return to Catholicism” note which reassured us squeaky clean Church goers that the prodigal son/ daughter was no longer soiled diseased, a threat..& as ten, obedient trusting to Jesus’s call, went to cross boundary to see priest,“they were cured”; realising their cure, one turned back, crossing border again to thank Jesus..a Samaritan a Yorkshireman from West Riding..a saddened Jesus enquires about other nine..the sting is in the tail as he says to foreigner “stand up & go on your way..your faith has saved you “ so how many were cured of their leprosy? ten ..& how many cured of their timidity in faith? one..the one, who got the only real cure of an everlasting lifetime, fit able keen eager to cross the only border that really matters into eternal life..words & a look of love & welcome to die for, when Our Lord meets each one of us on border & beckons us onwards & upwards “go on your way [into paradise] your faith has saved you” “if we have died with him then we shall live with him” 2nd rdg Paul writes to Timothy & now to us..& pray what happened next? like every gospel story it is left unfinished for you to write in your own ending; one cured went off to find others to explain value added of a spiritual conversion over a physical cure& encourage them into this Church, to cross the threshold/boundary to meet a priest..because Jesus, then & now, wants those cured of their diseases, our returning migrants, labelled “lapsed” for so long, our “angels unaware” to meet us & to cure their priests..to cure me..I read last week “just when I recognise myself in the thoughtless covetousness of these nine who pocket the healing, who lay hold of grace as something owed to them, & disappear from the Gospel just when I see in them the faces of our forgetful & ungrateful Churches, here comes the new people of God, this Samaritan who praises God with his whole body & thus all his heart, this man fresh & excited in the face of the Word, this stranger to the Gospel who is transformed by it & at whom Jesus is surprised. Thus we see all our pious customs denounced as worthless, the Word dead among religious people, renewed outside their small circle in a man who is a stranger to all their myths & rites, the community-prison of the Gospel falls silent & relearns it through its unexpected rising outside all traditions. Such is the originality of the NT; the Old invites the gentiles to gaze on Israel, the New invites all pious people to see & hear in the world the truth of the journeying Christ.” ..the pious challenged to look out, the migrant to look in..the two to meet on the border & together, journey with Christ as “angels unaware”..towards a cure for our own disease.. “stand up; go on your way; your faith has saved you.”..yes you. [28thSunYrC;Lk17;11-19]