Sunday thoughts: October

By Monsignor John Devine

The Brexit vote gives a platform to those who would like to close our borders and exclude outsiders. In the United States there is talk of erecting a wall on the border with Mexico. The last person to try that in this country was the Emperor Hadrian.

Foreign people are taking our jobs. They don't speak English. They may be terrorists. But the real reason we don't like them is because they are not like us. One lady tells me her problem with Pakistanis is the smell of their cooking. "Why should we have to put up with that?" she says. "When we bought this house it was a nice area." Tribalism has been the curse of humanity from the first morning of creation.

On the second Sunday in October we hear the Gospel account of the healing of the ten lepers. Jesus was drawn to outsiders: the blind, the lame, adulterers, tax collectors, even the hated Romans. And He was condemned for the company He kept. "Jesus travelled along the border between Samaria and Galilee." This was no man's land, occupied by lepers who were excluded from contact with others. It was the Calais 'Jungle' of its day. "They stood some way off and called to Him." Jesus cured them. It was as if Jesus changed places with the lepers. They were reintegrated into mainstream society. He was excluded. He felt at home in the borders. In the end they excluded Him once and for all. They took Him outside the city walls and crucified Him.