I have been sick for the past two weeks, and have found it hard to sit and write for extended periods of time. So for some reason, this previous blog post popped into my head, and I decided to share it today. I am hoping the coughing ends soon, but I think this blog post helps me remember who God wants me to be in these very noisy days.
During the week, I sat down with my husband and watched a PBS special on “Italian Americans”. Being one myself, I was interested to watch the story of the Italian immigrants who started to come to this county in the late 1800’s. Those who came to America faced prejudice, racism and a hard life in the midst of the industrial revolution. They came though, for a better life! While it was a hard road, they travelled it with their families, community and their faith. I totally enjoyed the program, but I was not really encouraged by it until Saturday. That was when I took some time to study for our Sunday lesson.
As I read through the story of the ten lepers that Jesus heals, I was struck by the one who came back to thank him. He was a Samaritan, a foreigner. In the Bible account, he is the only one who comes back and gives praise to God. It is interesting that the author of the story points out the difference of his nationality. I believe that may speak to the prejudice in Jesus’ own time. It is the same prejudice that affected my forefathers, and the same prejudice I see affecting people today. It was in that connection, that I heard the quiet whisper of encouragement.
What was so encouraging about seeing that prejudice has not gone away? Well it was Jesus example. Instead of bypassing those who were different, He chose to heal and forgive. He did not pay attention to the prejudice of the day whether it was based on race, nationality, sin, religion or class. Jesus looked past all these things to the actual person. It was exciting, even liberating. For me, it showed a freedom to ignore the classifications that society puts on people. The freedom to treat everyone as if they were just like me, because they are, even if they don’t seem like it. That is the freedom that Jesus gives us. To accept the foreigner as if he were family.
And yes….that is the manifest for my Great Grandfather when he came to this country in 1898.