The Old Testament concerns the will of the priestly class to judge a man a sinner. He is a leper. The judgment dehumanizes the man. No longer is he a human being with a disease but instead, he is the disease. He is the sin; “the priest shall declare him unclean… (he) shall keep his garments rent… he shall cry out, ‘Unclean!… (and) dwell apart.” Jesus’ Gospel concerns the will also, first of a leprous man then of a healer. The leprous man wills to be made whole and approaches Jesus for healing, “’If you wish, you can make me clean.’ Moved with compassion, Jesus stretched out his hand, touched him, and said, ‘I do will it. Be made clean.’ Jesus said to him, ‘(G)o, show yourself to the priest… that will be proof for them.’”
It was then and remains now the will of the priestly class to judge people as sinners. Is it our will to do the same? When Jesus sends the man he has healed of a leprous infection to the priests, he wills the priests healing too. Jesus is healing them of their supremacy. The priests are given the opportunity to realize they are capable of judging for bad but are not capable of acting for good. Also, that Jesus, who is not a priest but a commoner, can act with a greater power, to heal. The healing Jesus extends to the priestly class is needed in our own time. Our time is infected with the disease of supremacy too, white supremacy especially. White supremacists will the dehumanization and exclusion of people of color. But it is themselves they dehumanize and exclude. In Christ, white supremacists are given the opportunity to realize they are capable of judging for bad but are not capable of acting for good. Also, that those who are not supremacists as they are, can act with a greater power, to heal. Is this true? Can we act with healing power? Are we healers in this time of white supremacy, or, are white supremacists influencing us to do to them what they do to others, to dehumanize them? Do we dehumanize a person to being only that sin of supremacy and exclude them from communion? Professor Michael Kimmel, author of Angry White Men and Healing From Hate, analyzes supremacy. Part of the disease of white supremacy is that it is usually paired with masculine supremacy. Young white men are enticed to bond with and experience a perverted strength with older white men who are, ironically, dehumanizing them into being only white and masculine. Professor Kimmel’s studies revealed few if any supremacists, none of whom were guilty of crimes, left their supremacy cults by being shamed out of them. Few were publicly held accountable to the pain they caused. Let us consider if we are left feeling dissatisfied by that, if that angers us. Do we want white male supremacists to be judged and excluded? Do we say it is to hold them accountable? The term, accountable, comes from people paying the priestly class monetary damages for being a sinner against their deity. If it is our desire to hold supremacist white men accountable, without also extending the greater power of healing, it means we now relate as the supremacist priestly class. It means we want them to make punitive payment to us in some form. Could it be our desire instead that they be re-humanized in Christ, in other words, that they be held accountable to be healers? Like Jesus with the priests, we can hold our era’s supremacists to public accountability – that they are but judges yet could be healers. Healing was an intriguing element in Prof. Kimmel’s studies of white men exiting their supremacy groups. He discovered the exiting white men had developed a growing attachment to the environment, to nature. The men experienced a bond with nature which they knew as both strong and yet vulnerable and in need of their care. Increasingly attached to nature, to the healing nature provided them and the healing they provided nature, the men decreased their attachment to their supremacy groups. It is worth considering how we can help white men, especially young ones, infected with the disease of supremacy be made whole by being in touch with nature and many other healing environments. ‘Moved with compassion, Jesus stretched out his hand, touched him, and said, ‘I do will it. Be made whole.’
“I would feel more optimistic about a bright future for man if he spent less time proving that he can outwit Nature and more time tasting her sweetness and respecting her.” (E. B. White)
Prayer: Holy Spirit, help us not to judge or exclude but to receive and include.
Question: How am I in touch with and helping others, especially young men, be in touch with the healing power of nature?
February 14, 2021 Gospel Mark 1:40-45 Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time