1989 Oct 15 – 28th Sun Ord Time (Bulletin Letters)
Lk 17, 11 – 19
JESUS CURES TEN LEPERS – SOCIETIES OUTCAST:
This week’s Gospe1 features the curing of ten lepers. At the time of Christ medica1 diagnosis was very imprecise. Any disfiguring of the skin was considered a form of leprosy. Beyond the physical ailment being identified as a leper carried with it a negative socia1 stigma. “Cleanliness” and “godliness” were thought to be identical. If God’s people were called to “be holy” they were to avoid all that was unclean. Lepers were the designated outcast of the society. They were set apart from the community because they were thought to be unclean and therefore “un-ho1y”. The Book of Leviticus devotes two chapters to leprosy and the regulations separating them from the larger community. Jesus’ curing of the ten lepers was more than a physical healing. Jesus’ healing power also brought them back into the larger community.
HOMELESS — MODERN DAY LEPERS: Like leprosy before them, the homeless are set apart from the larger society and have a negative social stigma attached to them. Even though there are no written codes that insure this separation, there are unwritten attitudes that serve the same purposes. More than anything e1se, being homeless in this society is an experience of separation and alienation from the larger human family.
89 10 15 Road Trip: I just returned from the HOUSING NOW demonstration in Washington D. C. While in D.C. I stayed with Carol Fennelly and the Community for Creative Nonviolence. I had the opportunity to experience the effort from the inside out: through the eyes of the people organizing the affair. You can’t imagine the amount of networking and just plain organizing surrounding an effort like this. There were well over two hundred national groups and organizations endorsing the rally. People from all sectors of political life participated including a planeload of over one hundred T.V. and movie stars from Los Angeles, California. What impressed me the most was how the homeless themselves were given visible and key roles to play throughout the demonstration. This despite the difficulties experienced working with the more militant segments of the homeless population. ‘On Saturday afternoon well over 209,000 people showed up for the rally.
When Jesus cured the ten lepers he reunited them to the larger society. Last weeks HOUSING NOW effort went a long way to bring back to the larger society our modern day lepers and outcasts. In my judgment the HOUSING NOW demonstration is already a success no matter what federal legislation is passed for affordable housing. It was a success because it ignored the social stigma that separates the homeless from the rest of society and treated them as equals and full partners in their struggle for justice. It did what Jesus did for the ten lepers, it helped bring the homeless back into the 1arger human family.
89 10 15 Road Trip : YOUR TRAVELING PASTOR: It was good to be in my own bed this weekend but not for long. I head out for the Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas, Sunday afternoon right after the St. Anne’s FALL DINNER to attend the annual five day diocesan priest workshop. It is a great sacrifice on the part of the parishes in the diocese to have the priest away for five days. Yet it is a very important time for the Bishop and the priests of the diocese to build community and renew our commitment to service to the diocese. Please keep us in your prayers this week. Fr. Cornelius Gaul fom Earling, Iowa (phone 747-6001) will be covering for us in Harrison County should there be a need for a priest.
From Atchison, I travel directly to Long Grove, Iowa, for the “Peacemaking on the Prairie: a Regional Conference for Grassroots Peacemakers”. I ‘m giving a workshop called “Jesus the Nonviolent Resister.” I’ll return in time for the Holy Family Parish Council meeting on Monday, October 23. Fr. Bud Grant will be celebrating the weekend masses with you next week. While I’m away my house will be hosting Patty MacDonnell from Des Moines. Patty works with the homeless in Des Moines and has come out to Logan for some badly needed R&R (rest and relaxation).
When I return on the 23rd, I should be home for the rest of the year. I am grateful that you indulge me by giving me this time away from the county. Given the times and the priest that I have become, such excursions are necessary. I thank you and will return soon.
89 10 15 Pastoral: SPECIAL BAPTISM AND RECEPTION SATURDAY, OCTOBER 28th: The entire parish is welcome to attend the Baptism of Bennett Vincent Alvis at 5:30 p.m. Mass. Everyone is welcome to the reception immediately after Mass in the Church Hall. Bennett Vincent was born with Downs Syndrome and his fami1y is taking this opportunity to introduce him to the larger community. All are welcome.