Me and Them
As a child and growing into adulthood, I too, learned ways to feel safe from others who were different than me. I would talk about “those” people with their particular behaviors, cultures, or diseases. I would be sure to indicate in any number of ways that I was different than them. It made me feel secure and safe, in a way sanctified.
When I was a sophomore in high school my father left our family in the early seventies and I became “one of those children from a broken home.” As I read the first reading from Leviticus for this Sunday’s liturgy I identified with those who had leprosy forced to cry out, “unclean, unclean.” It wasn’t an identification that filled me with being the image of Christ, but rather shame.
Jesus, however, in the gospel is approached by a bold man, who believed that he was made in the image of God. He places Jesus in an awkward place and says to him, “If you wish, you can make me clean.” Who of us can approach the healing power of God without some place within us, knowing that divine gift within? So what was Jesus’ response? “I do will it. Be made clean.”
I didn’t see my own patterns of making people “broken” until later in my twenties. It was my blessed misfortune to beginning to work people that I had identified as “them.” In time they began to become people with stories and not ——–, and I found myself less able to separate my humanness from theirs. I had a different story and I had the same story.
As a woman, like the leper in today’s scripture seeking wholeness, and someone tired of being limited to screaming out what I wasn’t, rather than what who I am. Today’s scripture reminds me again of that call of Paul to each of us to: “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.”