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I compose and post these articles with only one desire in my heart: to praise God and to offer modest help on your spiritual journey.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

UNUSUAL FAITH HEROES

Reflecting on the leper in Mark 1:40-45, I was suddenly struck at how
daring, how courageous, how outside the law he was in approaching
Jesus. After all, the law required him to declare himself “Unclean,
Unclean” so everyone could get out of his way. Instead he decides,
this Jesus is the one who can perform miracles for others, so why not
for him. He just rushes in, kneels down to beg Jesus, and very boldly
declares, “If you wish, you can make me clean.” This really puts Jesus
on the spot. Any other account of lepers, Jesus is the one showing
courageous compassion by daring to approach the leper. Here Mark
reverses the scene.

The leper does move Jesus to pity and heals him. But he dismisses him
to remain silent and to report to the priests as required by law to be
declared healed. Instead, this leper goes big time publicity making it
impossible for Jesus to remain in public. It requires Jesus to remove
himself from the public. He must find a deserted place because the
pursuing crowds refuse to leave him alone.

This leper is now my faith hero, not just some poor man Jesus pitied.

Heroes act with courage when most would not. We have heroes in war. We
have sports heroes, entertainment heroes, political heroes, all who do
something exceptional, out of the ordinary and not as most would do.

There are heroes who go against the law and stand against authority to
demand attention; to demand action for the outcast. Ghandi’s first act
of civil disobedience tearing up his identity card before the British
colonial police. Mandela showing dignified defiance against an
apartheid government. Martin Luther King being instrumental in Selma.
These are great faith heroes. They all have a strong religious core
and an equally strong desire to make the human experience better.
Their voices changed history.

Other lesser known heroes have also changed the course of law or
social acceptance in our own times. The medical people traveling to
Africa to fight Ebola are heroes in their own right. Consider how
courageous was the nurse who returned to America from her efforts to
help Ebola patents. She defied the government of New Jersey’s home
imprisonment order. Her defiance was an act of courage against
ignorance and fear.

Consider too, the young “Dreamers” who boldly stepped out of the
shadows to demand attention and confront even the president of the
United States to pay attention to their plight.

What about those veterans who have been assigned to the deserted
places due to their PTSD? “If you want to, you can help us”. These
heroes are not done fighting their battles.

Most of us just don’t have conditions that ostracize us from society.
We expect to be kept safe and barely acknowledge the courage of those
who do keep us safe. We have little interest in the problems of those
who live on the margins of our society. But from time to time we are
awakened by those who break the rules and demand our attention. Those
choosing to right wrongs, challenge status quo, or change the world.

These heroes, great and small, awaken us to not only compassion, but
to action. The least we can do is to change our comfort zone and
perhaps move us enough to get involved in changing our world.

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