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A centurion approached Jesus and appealed to him, saying, “Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed, suffering dreadfully.” He said to him, “I will come and cure him.”
The day after Thanksgiving I had lunch with two High School students. I always enjoy spending time with my students or sharing a meal with them because it seems to me to be the best way to get them to open up and talk about their life as teenagers. I don’t remember how we got on the subject but we started talking about uniforms and private schools. An argument broke out. I was in favor of them and they were not. They told me how nice it would be to be able to express their individuality when going to school, just like kids can do in public schools. I laughed. I couldn’t hold it in. Thank God I didn’t have anything in my mouth.
I told the kids they were mistaken; that public school kids do indeed wear uniforms. They looked very puzzled. They shook their heads and said in one voice, “Father, you don’t have to wear a uniform in public school. One student conceded and said, “Maybe there is a dress code, but you don’t have to wear a uniform.” Again, I disagreed with the two of them. I explained to them that all the kids had to wear a uniform. The only difference was that it was the students and not the administration that decided what it would be. Again, almost simultaneously, they said, “Huh?” I kept going, “You know just as well as I do that you can’t go to school wearing whatever you want. No way! You have to wear what is considered “acceptable” by your friends and peers. If you are a nerd then you have to dress like a nerd. If you are rich, then you have to dress like the rich do. If you are a pothead, then you have to dress like the potties. Am I wrong? Don’t all the girls wear earrings? Don’t all the guys wear them too? Don’t all the jocks were the best sneakers? Don’t all the girls wear the latest jeans? If you don’t, then you don’t belong anywhere.”
One student interrupted me and said, “You’re right!” A few years back, while in middle school, she noticed how certain people would sit together in the cafeteria. It really wasn’t based on friendships. It was actually based upon your “status”. If you were dating, then you would sit next to your boyfriend, regardless if you were the only girl sitting there. It started becoming more and more difficult to break free from any type of categorizing.
I personally remember how the jocks all sat together; the nerds did the same thing; the potheads did it too. Students tend to segregate themselves not so much on the color of their skin but on so many other issues. And we consider this to be “progress”.
The Lord breaks through all our categorizing, all our stereotyping, all our boundaries and borders. He calls me by name and I can’t believe it! I am a sinner and yet, the Lord is not repelled by my status. He invites me to sit with him. He wishes to speak to me. He falls in love with me. He welcomes me and cures me.
The Lord is not scandalized by our unworthiness; he waits for the faith that welcomes his presence.
“Come and save us, Lord our God; let your face shine upon us, that we may be saved.”