C I V I L    M A R R I A G E    I S    A    C I V I L    R I G H T.

A N D N O W I T ' S T H E L A W O F T H E L A N D.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Facebook Lepers

Your Head Trucker is blown away by the sermon preached this morning by Father Sean Mullen at St. Mark's Episcopal in Philadelphia, forwarded by my truckbuddy Dave up there.  Read the whole thing, which will make you smile and even laugh out loud in parts, but here's the magnificent conclusion:
But the tenth leper realized that Jesus had never texted him, hadn’t friended him on Facebook (and probably wasn’t even on Facebook!), didn’t write a blog, and in fact only ever wrote one thing in the sand, which got blown away by the wind. And looking back over his life, he could see that the best thing he ever did was to turn around on that fateful day, when Jesus healed him, and to fall at his feet and thank him. Because of the many things he could not figure out in life, he was sure of this: that he was a beloved child of God, and that he would never stop thanking God for sending Jesus, his Son, into the world.

In our own day and age leprosy is not so much of a problem as it once was, and yet we know this: you don’t have to be a leper to feel like one. This is the too-frequent experience of adolescent kids who begin to suspect that they are different because their hearts flutter in the presence of other kids of the same gender, which, when you are 13 or 14 or 15 and trying to fit in, feels an awful lot like leprosy, and you pray just as hard as you can that you can keep that part of you covered up, unexposed, because what would be worse than being known to be a leper, being known to be gay, when you are just a kid trying to fit in, and the wrong glance, the wrong word, the wrong move will send this rumor about you buzzing through space faster than you could ever control it, before you have even figured out how you are feeling, and before you have ever even felt what a kiss on the lips feels like, but the whole world knows, thanks to Facebook or Twitter, or whatever, that you yearn for lips you should not be yearning for: you are a leper.

And since this is the world we live in, by the grace of God such a kid might end up in front of a computer, not reading the idiotic, taunting, and unintentionally but nevertheless cruel posts of his or her peers, but watching instead the several videos that have been floating around this week of celebrities and normal people who very much want that troubled kid - who is feeling so low and so anguished, and so much like he or she can never be accepted by family or friends or the world at large, because he or she is just such a leper – to know that it gets better.

And wouldn’t it be wonderful if one of those videos featured a plain looking person, who grew up in Samaria, and who looked earnestly and sweetly into his camera and said something like this:

“I know what it feels like to feel like a leper, because I was one. I know what it feels like to be laughed at, ridiculed, taunted, and disliked for something you never asked for and couldn’t do anything about. I know what it feels like to want things to change, to yearn to be accepted, to be afraid that people everywhere will always know that you are less than you should be, sick, warped, broken, not right. I know what it feels like to be compared to an animal and to be treated like one.

“But one day in my life – a life in which I had always hoped that things would get better, but they never did – I met Jesus. I had heard all kinds of things about him, and I can tell you now that what I heard about him was more wrong than right.

“And on the day I met him, I just yelled out, from a safe distance, ‘Jesus, have mercy on me!’ I didn’t know what I was saying. And I didn’t know what he was saying when he said nothing more than ‘Go and show yourselves to the priests,’ which hardly seemed like a good idea since priests are often known to be not very kind to lepers. But before I took two steps, I looked down, and I was healed, so I turned back and ran to Jesus and praised his name, and fell at his feet to thank him.

“My young friend, you are not a leper. Nothing in you needs to be healed except your tortured heart, which has been so hurt that it has fantasized about leaping off of bridges. This alone needs to be healed in you – this idea that there is no other path that will work, no other option that is good, no other way to escape the pain you keep so carefully hidden inside of you, so no one can see it, and no one will know who you really are.

“But Jesus already knows who you really are. He made you, and he loves you. And he wants you to live.

“Turn around, my friend, and see him standing there, ready to do anything for you, ready to die for you. And hear him promise, with me:  It gets better.”


Anonymous said...

Russ-- Thank you, truly, for your blog. I have read you for a while, having stumbled across you from Bill in Exile, gone back and read all you have written almost from the beginning. You,ve made me laugh, cry, sob, question, and understand. I'm 48 and still wonder why men of our age slot had to go through the hiding and shame and thoughts of never being loved and never being accepted by family and friends, and the crushing thoughts of suicide. I have family who accepts me (now) and my partner. Oh what a feeling. I ramble.
Again, a plain, huge thanks, Jason (from Virginia, where it's still 1860. Maybe we'll get to the 20th century one day)

Sebastian said...

Russ, thanks for posting this sermon on your blog. There is good, real, and true preaching in the world, preaching that shows the light of Christ for what it is: Good News for all God's people, and especially for the ones who are on the margins. Today I attended Holy Redeemer Catholic Church in the Castro section of San Francisco. The homily was fantastic, but the prayer and comments at the end of the Mass brought tears to my eyes, and the eyes of many in the room. "Love yourself, for God created you to be who you are. And if gay people do not love themselves, well, then you can't really come to love God."

David said...

That's just pretty amazing.

Related Posts with Thumbnails