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Thought for Sunday 13th October 2019
Seventeenth Sunday after Trinity
I frequently receive newsletters and appeals from the Leprosy Mission with harrowing stories of how sufferers from leprosy today, as in Jesus’ time, as well as their physical suffering and deformities, are also shunned and ostracised from society as are their families and considered in some places to be cursed.
Leprosy is now curable but in today’s stories from the Old Testament and the Gospel divine intervention was necessary to cure the sufferers and in both cases those of lower social status and those outside the Jewish religious community demonstrated greater insight into the source of healing than the powerful in society and orthodox believers. The Israelite slave girl who told Naaman’s wife about the power of the prophet Elijah was clearly of a much lower social rank than Naaman – who appears as very conscious of his position – and the Samaritan who is cured is the only leper who gives thanks to Jesus. Samaritans were outsiders in the eyes of the orthodox Jewish community and contact with them was avoided.
Lessons for us from today’s stories might be that the church should reach out to and accept all and not marginalise anyone as untouchable and that those outside the church might often have greater insight into Gospel truths than those of us who take them for granted.