Friday, May 1, 2009

"We have seen strange things today."

Jesus asks his inquisitors: What is tougher? Forgiving sins or healing the sick? For good measure, Jesus does both: he heals a leper and forgives his sins, though the man has not asked forgiveness. The inquisitors are baffled and all they can come up with is "We have seen strange things today." The story is in this morning's Daily Office reading (Luke 5: 12-26). The question from Jesus, of course, is meant to toss us off our heels and see the Kingdom of God in ways we do not expect. 

This story and others like it contain another element as well: Reconciliation. Forgiveness comes as a declaration by Jesus that the one who is healed is not only made whole in body, but is reconciled in spirit with the Creator. It comes without the baggage of guilt, but rather as a pronouncement of reconciliation. Healing is not complete without reconciliation. In the months ahead, I plan to explore this theme occasionally in preaching and on this blog.

There is another piece to this reconciliation business: In the Luke story, Jesus tells the healed leper to go to the priest and make an offering. Similar stories elsewhere in the gospels have Jesus telling the healed ones to go to the temple or go back to their villages. Notice that Jesus is telling these folks to go to the very people who rejected them: priests, temple authorities. Jesus looks for reconciliation with the persecutors, he sends them evidence of healing and wholeness in the hope the persecutors will repent -- turn around -- and be made whole. This concept, of course, the inspiration for the Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Oscar Romero and Desmond Tutu. Each confronted the oppressors not with guns, but with reconciliation. And sometimes hearts and minds do change. That is our Hope.

Blessings to all this day.

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