In the margins
Luke 17: 11-19 (NRSVA)
11 On the way to Jerusalem Jesus was going through the region between Samaria and Galilee. 12 As he entered a village, ten lepers approached him. Keeping their distance, 13 they called out, saying, ‘Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!’ 14 When he saw them, he said to them, ‘Go and show yourselves to the priests.’ And as they went, they were made clean. 15 Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice. 16 He prostrated himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him. And he was a Samaritan. 17 Then Jesus asked, ‘Were not ten made clean? But the other nine, where are they? 18 Was none of them found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?’ 19 Then he said to him, ‘Get up and go on your way; your faith has made you well.’
‘Mission from the margins’ is a popular term in liberation theology. It has its roots in the Gospel truth that wisdom and understanding do not always come from those in power. In fact, it is often the socially, politically or physically powerless who have the greatest insight into the way the world works and how God works within it. In today's reading ten social outcasts are healed but only the foreigner praises God and recognises Jesus. Who do we know, I wonder, who is on the fringes and trying to be heard?
Sometimes I think we get too comfortable with where and who we are: our programmes, our plans, the way we can ‘do good’ for others. But what if the good doesn’t come from us? What if sometimes we are not called to ‘do’ at all, but instead to ‘be’, to listen, to be humble enough to receive help from those we thought we were helping.
Lord, help me to remember that it isn’t my mission,
Direct my eyes away from the centre
to the margins, the fringes, the edges.
Open my ears to unexpected prophets
May I not stand in disapproving silence ready to teach them how to follow you with dignity.
But instead kneel beside them, and let them teach me
where you are and what you have done.