Respect Life Month: Inclusion Awareness
Respect life month invites us to meditate on the dignity of life. On the second weekend of October, we celebrate Inclusion Awareness Day as a part of respect life month. We celebrate life with our ability and disAbilities, our strength and weakness. We are one family. Because we like to see ourselves as young, healthy, and wealthy, sometimes we forget to appreciate the rest of the community. Inclusion Awareness Sunday is an opportunity to reflect on how we include everyone in the community by looking at our abilities rather than disAbilities. How we appreciate the gift of each and every one. In other words, how we celebrate our differences. This weekend’s reading invites us to “do something beautiful for God” by reaching out to others.
Father Henri Nouwen, the founder of Pathways Awareness, remarked that "I was always studying about God and teaching about God to all these bright students. I wanted to be smarter than others. I wanted to show them that I could be "with it". And I suddenly realized that it is not in strength and power that God was coming to me, but in weakness."
Last weekend, we reflected on Faith. Jesus told his disciples, "If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you would say to this mulberry tree, 'Be uprooted and planted in the sea,' and it would obey you.” Luke 17:6. Today, the reading invites us to reflect on faith and gratitude. Luke 17:11-19 narrates an incident recounting the faith and thankfulness of the cleansed Samaritan leper. This incident is only in Luke’s gospel. Those who suffered leprosy were outcasts. There were ritually unclean and believed that they were contagious. Leviticus chapter 13 explains what to do if some have an infectious disease. Leviticus 13:45 says, “The garments of one afflicted with a scaly infection shall be rent and the hair disheveled, and the mustache covered. The individual shall cry out, “Unclean, unclean!” The ten lepers stood at a distance and lifted their voice and said, "Jesus, Master! Have pity on us!" And his reply was "Go show yourselves to the priests." Leviticus chapter 14 explains the purification after a scaly infection. Leviticus 14:2 says, “This is the ritual for someone that had a scaly infection at the time of that person’s purification. The individual shall be brought to the priest.” So, Jesus asked them to show the priest. The lepers were not cleansed, but they believed and followed his instruction.
The non-Jew is the one who came to express gratitude and was being an example to his Jewish contemporaries. This foreigner was not just cleansed, but he was healed and received salvation. Jesus’ action recalls the incident in the first reading how Elisha cleansed a foreign leper while living in Samaria. Jesus initiates the welcoming of the foreigners into God’s covenant family as prophesied in Isaiah 56:3-8, “…And foreigners who join themselves to the LORD, to minister to him, to love the name of the LORD, to become his servants…” It is the faith in Jesus manifested by the foreigner that has brought him salvation. In Luke 7:36-50, a sinful woman expressed her faith and Jesus said to her, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”
In the second reading, Paul, the apostle of gentiles, offered up his imprisonment as an intercessory prayer for the faithful. Likewise, we must be willing to suffer for the sake of our faith. Suffering is accepted in union with Christ’s cross. Paul used every occasion to proclaim the Gospel, even chains were not an obstacle. The word of God could not be chained.
Let us pray, Lord, give us the grace to ever grow in faith, never fail to recognize your love and mercy, and always proclaim the Gospel. Lord, give us strength to bring others closer to you. Amen.