6th Sunday B
St. Colman’s Cathedral, Cobh
11th February 2024
“If you want to, you can cure me”
You may not be that familiar with the acronym E.D.I. It stands for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion. For various reasons it has come to the fore in organisations and companies. It is a requirement for many entities to have clear policy statements which commit the organisation to the promotion of E.D.I. -Equality, Diversity and Inclusion and indicate how they are doing so.
This goes to show that while individually we might believe in these values it is not so easy to ensure that is how people are treated. In fact on the contrary despite all our talk of human rights we continue to have great injustices in society and across the world.
These thoughts are prompted by the mention of the leper in the 1st Reading from Leviticus and the Gospel reading from St. Mark. The plight of the leper was horrendous – the disease alone led to great distress and suffering which went on to be compounded by being cast out from society due to the risk they posed to others. Sadly, Covid taught us some of those hard lessons as so many died without the tender loving presence of family due to their infectious illness. Even in these mostly post Covid times there are those who due to their compromised immune systems they are very much isolated in their illness.
Thankfully, leprosy is mostly controlled and treatable across the world – so that the plight of the outcast is no longer theirs. But that doesn’t mean the outcast has disappeared. In fact, due to discrimination of multiple forms so many are cast out to isolation and separation.
As disciples of the Lord Jesus, we are continually challenged to be attentive to what he has said and done in so many instances where he was dealing with an outcast, one that society rejected for whatever reason. His example is consistent – he spoke to them in a tone of acceptance. Apart from to-day’s Gospel where St. Mark states “Feeling sorry for him, Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him” there are several similar meetings with the “unacceptable” people where Jesus’ acceptance, his hearers find shocking. “Shocked” because he and they can be “contaminated” by association. The reality for all of us, if honest with ourselves, is that we tend to live in our comfort zones both in person and action. That makes it difficult for us to break out from what is a mental prison or bondage to be open to seeking understanding of and acceptance of those who differ greatly from us.
While E.D.I. – Equality, Diversity and Inclusion are current politically correct terms to-day they have as their foundation the Christian virtues of Jesus’ teaching and healing. At their base is the recognition of all as children of God regardless of race, colour, male or female – in the words of St. Paul no distinctions, neither Jew nor Greek, male nor female.
To live with difference is always a challenge. Yet in an era of ever greater migration across the world this call of acceptance of the outcast or the stranger becomes ever more urgent and necessary if we are to live in harmony and mutual recognition and acceptance.
May the generous heart of Jesus be our constant inspiration