Weekend Reflections for 10/11/19
Lepers and Fences.
In his famous poem “Mending Wall” Robert Frost objects to his neighbor’s outworn cliché: “Good fences make good neighbors,” objecting: Why do they make good neighbors? Isn't it where there are cows? But here there are no cows. Before I built a wall I'd ask to know what I was walling in or walling out, and to whom I was like to give offence. Something there is that doesn't love a wall, that wants it down.
Sunday’s scriptures challenge us about the way we build walls, set boundaries to exclude and include. Both Naaman in today’s first reading and the grateful Samaritan in the Gospel were double outsiders: Not only were they excluded because they had a dreadful disease, but they were also considered dirty, dangerous foreigners who were not allowed to interact with those who considered themselves the pure, proper “chosen” people.
In the Gospel Jesus often seems to be tearing down those walls of exclusion, not mending fences but destroying those irrational human barriers which seem to make walls and fences necessary. Jesus is the ultimate outsider, crucified because he reached out to strangers; with his arms open for embrace on the cross he includes and welcomes all outsiders, challenging us Christians to rethink how we approach the stranger, the foreigner, those we want to exclude rather than embrace. May our experience of the Spiritual Exercises at White House help us to open our own arms in the inclusive embrace of Jesus for all.
-Fr. Ted Arroyo, SJ