By Sharon Wilson
Today’s first reading and Gospel reading deal with how the leper was treated.
First in the old testament:
“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.” LV 13:46
And in a more merciful way in the interaction with Christ in the Gospel reading: “Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand, touched him, and said to him, “I do will it. Be made clean.” Mark 1:41
In this day and age most of us will never meet anyone who has leprosy, but there are people in our lives we would rather avoid.
Working for the church and even when I was a volunteer with my parish—I often had difficulty loving my neighbor. (Let’s be real—I always have had trouble loving my neighbor. I just didn’t recognize it as such.) I remember telling my spiritual director that once I was working for the church I thought I would be only working with nice and kind people. She laughed out loud. “What made you think they would be different than anyone else!”
Recently, I have had much trouble accepting a situation within my work where I have been less than appreciated and in some respects, treated poorly. It has caused me much pain. Sometimes, even when you are trying to follow the will of God—some will immediately fear or ostracize you. Change, even change that brings about conversion, can be met with fear and fear separates us. My response has been less than holy. When I am kicked…I want to kick back.
Serving others, whether it’s your family, customers, parishioners, clients or friends is always difficult. Why do we do it?
A priest friend of mine was moved from his beloved parish he served for 15 years to a new parish. I went to visit with him shortly after the move. He was still visibly grieving the move and being separated from his congregation. But even in the depth of his sadness he said something that I often reflect on. As I was driving him back from the coffee shop to his church, there were kids from the school playing outside. He made some remark about the kids and the parishioners. I honestly can’t remember what he said but only that it was said with the utmost kindness and love. Here he was, grieving the loss of people he loved and put in a situation that felt unknown, but his response was love. I turned to him and said, quite surprised, “You love them don’t you?” (referring to his new parish and people he did not even know yet.) His reply was, “Of course, they are God’s people.”
As I work through the difficulties of serving people, even difficult people or difficult situations, I try to remember that they are God’s people.
Mother Theresa knew this as this quote of hers reminds us:
People are often unreasonable and self-centered. Forgive them anyway. If you are kind, people may accuse you of ulterior motives. Be kind anyway. If you are honest, people may cheat you. Be honest anyway. If you find happiness, people may be jealous. Be happy anyway. The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway. Give the world the best you have and it may never be enough. Give your best anyway. For you see, in the end, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.
Have you found difficulties serving others?
How have you responded?
Are there people in your life you would rather avoid?
Say a prayer for them (and for yourself) We are, after all, “God’s people.”
About the Author:
Sharon Wilson – Wife, Mother, Writer, Catholic Speaker, and a WINE Specialist. Sharon has a degree in education and has worked as a freelance writer, Respect Life Coordinator, a teacher, in advertising, radio, buyer and in youth advocacy – She even rode an elephant in the circus once! Sharon speaks, writes and shares about God’s healing and about the great gift of being Catholic at SharonAgnesWilson.com