14th October 2018
On reflection this passage can say so much to us in our own lives. Leprosy, thank God, once such a terrifying disease has largely disappeared from many parts of the earth. Where it is still to be found, modern drugs are able to control it and even to heal it. We also know now that, although contagious, occasional contact with a leprous person is not dangerous.
However, leprosies of different kinds are still endemic in every society, no matter how sophisticated. In some parts of the world whole communities of people are neglected, despised, exploited and alienated. In every society there are people who are marginalised, sometimes by “benign neglect”, sometimes by outright discrimination and oppression. Racism and communalism are rampant everywhere, sometimes very openly, sometimes in more subtle but equally hurtful ways.
And we need to remember that prejudice and non-acceptance occurs in all directions, not just from the majority downwards. Minorities can be equally prejudiced against the surrounding majority. There can be divisions between one minority and another. We can all be guilty of making lepers of others.
In our own society some racial groups are very aware of being seen as different and inferior. Newly arrived immigrants can fall into such a category, even though they are legally in the country and making a significant contribution by often doing the work which local people refuse to do. It was ironic in Hong Kong during the 1980s that many Vietnamese “boat people”, who were not wanted by anybody, were housed in camps which had formerly housed “real” lepers. Even immigrant communities, which have been in a country for generations, are sometimes not fully accepted. (One thinks of some European countries or Japan, for instance.)
Thanks: On behalf of the parishioners of St Mary’s, grateful thanks are extended to the management of Asda, Dalton. As part of their current initiative addressing Poverty, Sam Jarvis has kindly delivered to church a very generous amount of food which has been donated by shoppers. This supports our own ongoing efforts and serves to remind us of the real need experienced by people in our local community.