Moved with compassion, Jesus stretched out his hand, touched the leper,
and said, ‘… Be made clean!’
…he could no longer go into a town openly but stayed out in the country;
and people came to him from every quarter. Mark 1: 41, 45
Have you been condemned for the company you keep?
Touching and being touched
by people, lawfully deemed unwholesome,
Jesus shattered age-old taboos of ritual purity.
Now cast out,
he became accessible
to other hungry, hurting fringe-dwellers.
Choosing personal contact with undesirables,
he likewise consigned his companions
to the ranks of the contaminated;
untouchable, diseased and distressed bodies,
dispossessed beggars, public sinners,
unseemly outsiders and tormented souls;
for their condition forever condemned,
to inhabit the outskirts,
beyond the margins of respectability.
Encircled by such discounted souls,
his vision, his message, his benediction
became virulently infectious:
Blest are you,
already holy, freely forgiven.
Your lives matter!
because you are listened to
and loved as you are.
Blest even in your exclusion,
your craving for wholeness,
your longing to belong.
Though crushed and wretched you may be,
you are also the hallowed
children of the Holy One.
Because you are hungry for justice, clear-hearted
humble, mourning, poor, persecuted peacemakers,
you are warmly welcomed; presently blessed.
Thus, in scandalous solidarity;
with words, with wonders, with witness;
Jesus grated against the grain of established meritocracy.
There will always be voices that promise you greatness and glory:
They call out from the worldly marketplace;
They call out from the spiritual marketplace;
They call out from the fill-your-holes-marketplace;
They call out from the bigger-better-more marketplace.
Do not buy their false promises or purchase their ephemeral wares;
What fulfills for a moment is not worth the price of your soul. Jennifer Welwood
Pilgrim beware the blessing
of this controversial Christ;
whose touch cross-contaminates;
whose vision beckons a bridge-building
Spirit that tolerates
no carefully-constructed barriers to forgiveness;
are sure to ruin reputations,
with guaranteed exclusion from polite circles.
Your very presence, now disturbing, your company
made contemptable, like your Teacher,
you become a menace to authorities political and ecclesiastical.
Following the tainted tracks of Jesus
inevitably leads to personal contact
with sullied and unsavory types,
and surely bears the
bliss of persecution.
If these blessings have not
yet derailed you in discipleship,
you might well wonder whose lead you’ve been following.
Rise up, follow me,
Come away, is the call,
With the love in your heart
As the only song;
There is no such beauty
As where you belong;
Rise up, follow me,
I will lead you home. Stephen Paulus
In the downside-up Reign of Unlikely Relationships,
the sinless, successful, and self-satisfied
are NOT the ones already sanctified.
Seeker take care to befriend the Christ cast-aside;
not fearing blemished reputation,
and marked with the sign of cross-contamination:
God bless your head with understanding.
Bless your heart with love expanding.
Bless your arms with lives to tend,
with worthy work and wounds to mend.