Homilette for Thursday, January 15, 2009

Thursday of the First Week in Ordinary Time

(Hebrews 3:7-14; Mark 1:40-45)

Fifty years or so ago, a journalist named John Howard Griffin performed a shocking social experiment. He dyed his skin black and toured the South to learn first hand how African-Americans there experience everyday. Predictably, he had trouble using public restrooms. In general, wherever white men had easy access, he was treated with suspicion. Eventually Griffin wrote an account of his travails which helped soften white resistance to the American civil rights movement.

We might say that Griffin was an insider who made himself an outsider so that outsiders might become insiders. Similar reversals take place in the gospel today. After Jesus cures the leper, his fame as a healer spreads so widely that he cannot any town without being besieged by needy petitioners. He is the insider who becomes an outsider for the sake of others. Meanwhile, the cured leper who by law had to remain outside populated areas now can enter any town freely.

Many people when contemplating a good deed wonder if they are not getting into an undesirable situation. They may that fear that sending a check to one charity will reap a windfall of other requests. Or they may ask themselves, if they help a person with rent one month, would the person return for the same help frequently? Jesus shows us today that we must not allow fear to overcome the prompting of our hearts to assist others. Rather like him we do the good we can and trust that God will deliver us from any unpleasant repercussions.