2 Kgs 5:14-17
2 Tm. 2:8-13
The Exit Ramp
This morning I was coming off an exit ramp from the freeway and a man held a sign which said, “I am dying.” Usually, their signs say something like, “disabled veteran, out of work, stranded, will work for food, mother with five children…” and so the list continues. I usually think about what their situation might be and sometimes give them money.
However, I had a very strong negative reaction to this man and his sign today. My negative reaction both embarrasses me and puzzles me. I don’t know what it is about people who ask me for money via face to face requests. I have had several unsolicited teachers show up in the activity of asking for money. I always learn more about myself than I usually want to know at the time, not so much from their requests as much as from my strong reactions.
Today, I was angry with this man on the side of the road for not going somewhere besides the side of the road to get the help he needed. Now the truth is that I have no idea what he has tried to do to get the help he may or may not need, I have only my skepticism and my judgments.
Later today, I was driving home from an errand and I saw a dog wandering out in a very busy street. I pulled over to the side of the road and tried to get the dog out of the road, I was worried that s/he might get hit. When I got home I called and told a friend about both experiences today and my embarrassment about the different reactions I had to the man on the side of the road and the dog.
As I read the gospel for the 14th of October, I find myself thinking about the unsolicited request that Jesus received all of the time for one thing or another. Today it was ten people living with leprosy looking for “pity” from Jesus. I don’t know if pity is translated into money, food, or even perhaps a place to stay for the evening. Jesus used what seems like to me, code words and said to them, “Go show yourselves to the priests.” And off they went to show themselves to the priests. Moreover, not only did they do that, but on the way they were healed!
Okay, so Jesus didn’t react unkindly to the folk’s request, he gave them even more than what they asked. In healing them, he called them back into community no longer outcasts because of their disease. Again I look to my experience today and I wonder, “Why did I respond so poorly to this man?” What did his need trigger in me? In comparison, what was triggered in me when I saw the dog running in the street?
In the gospel of October 14th, Jesus (from what we read) did not ask, “Upon what criteria are you asking for my attention? Who have you seen prior to me for help, for healing?” Instead, he said, “Go show yourselves to the priests.” Later in the reading one of the ten realized that he was healed.
“And one of them, realizing he had been healed,
returned, glorifying God in a loud voice;
It is at this point that Jesus was upset, because only one of the ten returned to express gratitude for the healing; that is understandable. However, I am still left with my less than Christ feelings about the man and his sign. There is a gap between the gospel reading and my reaction to the man on the road. This week I will use my teacher on the freeway exit to look at the inner judgments which keep me from seeing all as being as worthy as a dog to be healed and whole.