Monday, March 12, 2012

Lent Day 17: Thankful for ascribed cleanliness

"Stop!" The funeral process halted, mourners temporarily silencing their wails in shock. Not even the grief-stricken widow was immune from Jesus' interruption. Her only son had died and she had no tomorrow. No one would care for her though she'd strained her resources to provide a decent funeral for her only child.

Jesus walked up to the bier and touched it. "What is the rabbi doing? He won't be around us for at least a week," whispered bystanders. "He's unclean."

"Sit up, lad," Jesus said to the corpse wrapped in linens. As the young man's spirit returned to his body, he sat up. "Here is your son," Jesus smiled at the widow, bestowing God's favor.

By touching a dead body in a culture of ritual cleanliness, Jesus had made himself unclean. Most religious authorities shrank from contact or proximity to death and disease. (Jesus' example of the Good Samaritan proved a surprising exception to listeners, who understood when Pharisees and scribe hurried away from a man who had been beaten, robbed, and left for dead.)

I'm amazed that Luke does not record cleansing rituals following such "contaminating" events. Jesus––touching the uncleanness of humanity––does not himself become polluted or despoiled. Instead, wherever he goes, whatever he touches, however he heals, he brings life while remaining pure and clean.

I want to be like Jesus: uncontaminated while not shrinking away from those who have become filthy by sin, wrecked by bad choices, and stinking from the deathly consequences of brokenness. After all, Jesus touched me when I was ruined and dirty. He does not abandon me nor cast me off even now when I fail him. The hymnwriter says:

Grace, grace, God's grace - grace that will pardon and cleanse within.
Grace, grace, God's grace - grace that is greater than all my sin.

Thanks be to God for his holiness, ascribed to his children––and to me––today.

Read more:
*Suppose you sin by violating one of the LORD's commands. Even if you are unaware of what you have done, you are guilty and will be punished for your sin. For a guilt offering, you must bring to the priest your own ram with no defects, or you may buy one of equal value. Through this process the priest will purify you from your unintentional sin, making you right with the LORD, and you will be forgiven. This is a guilt offering, for you have been guilty of an offense against the LORD. Leviticus 5:17—19

*The Lord executes justice for the orphan and the widow, and loves the strangers, providing them food and clothing. You shall also love the stranger. Deuteronomy 10:18,19

*We ought to support such people, so that we may become co-workers with the truth. 3 John 8

Moravian Prayer: God of justice, you are never biased. However, you always notice the powerless, the marginalized, the downtrodden, the hungry, the homeless and the addicted. You call upon us to do the same so we might be co-workers with the truth. Give us courage to face the forces of power and work for justice in every arena of our lives. Amen.

1 comment:

  1. awesomely written.... I feel like I was there at that time.. and then you bring it back home to where I live... and I see myself shrinking from the pollution in the lives of those around me-- from my own mess as well. I hear the words of Jesus.. Go ye-- Go Richie- into ALL the world.. and then saint francis.. and use words if necessary... Jesus - teach me to LOVE.