December 15, 2010

Touching the Untouchables

Luke 5:12-15

Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!”
Luke 5:13


John Grisham’s novel The Street Lawyer tells about an attorney who one day finds himself in an elevator with a homeless person. He is annoyed because the man smells. The man is so unkempt that he’s disgusting to look at. The lawyer wants to get him out of the building as soon as possible. He has no time for homeless people.

As the story unfolds, the lawyer undergoes a transformation. He leaves a promising career behind to become a street lawyer who will spend his time and effort working with the poor and homeless. Without realizing it, the lawyer begins to imitate the Lord Jesus, who spent time with the outcasts of his community.

In our Scripture reading today, Jesus reaches out to touch a leper. It was something unheard of. A leper was unclean and was not allowed to live with his family or in society. He was homeless. To touch a leper was to become unclean yourself. But that’s why Jesus came—to reach out to people who were labeled untouchable.

We are called to have the same attitude as that of Christ Jesus. That means we would do well to look around this Christmas season and reach out to people who are cast out or homeless. Think about spending some time in a homeless shelter in your area to serve a meal or become a friend. Some churches have opened their doors to house homeless people. Maybe yours should do that too. We are to follow our Lord’s example.

Lord, help us to reach out to people who have fallen on hard times. Help us to show love and care in your name. Amen.

About the author — Arthur J. Schoonveld

Rev. Art Schoonveld is a retired minister in the Christian Reformed Church. Before retiring in 2001, he served churches in California, Illinois, and Michigan. Since his retirement he has worked part-time for the denomination and has served as an interim pastor. Art and his wife, Anita, have four children and nine grandchildren.

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