Editor’s Note: After today, Monday, February 15, 2021, the Rise Up series will be paused in preparation for Lent 2021. ISN publishes an annual daily Lenten series, this year entitled Steadfast: A Call to Love. Don’t miss a single post: subscribe today!
A few years ago at an Arrupe Leaders Summit, high school students from different cities, income levels, and backgrounds paired off and were asked to respond to questions for 30 seconds each.
The timer was set—“Who are you at this moment?”
Students began talking honestly, not having time to craft an answer they thought the other would want to hear.
Question 2—“Who do you sometimes pretend to be?”
As these teenagers answered the questions, each person responding or listening in turn, I saw their body language change, relaxing into the safety and honesty of the space, relaxing into their divinity and allowing themselves and others to receive it.
In the Gospel on Sunday, the man with boils on his skin was supposed to be dwelling outside of town, hiding behind his clothes, and loudly declaring himself unclean. But he instead he broke the law. He bravely challenged the system in place with his mere presence in town. Searching for healing and validation, he came into town because he believed that Jesus would see him, would invite him in and heal him.
And so, with the complete honesty of pain and hope that comes with suffering, he kneels before Jesus and begs. “If you wish it, you can make me clean.”
Jesus understands this request. We all do. He has pity on him. He experiences “fellow-feeling.” Jesus recognizes this desire for validation, for the recognition of the divine in us. He reaches out his hand and touches the man.
We all have the ability to sit with others and recognize the divine. We can step out of our own discomfort and let our divinity reveal itself.
It’s these interactions that continue to sit with us. They’re what you tell your parents about when you return home from a leadership summit. They are what you can’t help telling everyone in town about. They’re what continue to heal you even after the boils are long gone.
Lena Chapin is the development director for the Ignatian Solidarity Network. After graduating from John Carroll University with Bachelors of Arts degrees in both English and Communications, she spent a year in Immokalee, Florida with the Humility of Mary Volunteer Service.