British jobs for British workers is what Gordon Brown said last week. Barack Obama is trying to get all American companies who have work bases outside America to come home. In this difficult economic time there is a tendency to close down and look after your own people first. It has echoes of years gone by when there were signs up no Irish need apply. Even here at home over the last few weeks and months you can hear more and more people saying that the foreigners should go back home because there is nothing for them here any more. Any jobs that do exist should be for us. In times of uncertainty people tend to retreat back into their group and exclude others. Taking care of ourselves becomes our first priority. While this is understandable it is also very regrettable. The policy of exclusion breeds selfishness. Selfishness ensures that we have never enough. It might appear a very practical way to live but it is a very negative way to live that never arrives at contentment.
The book of Leviticus describes a policy of extreme exclusion. People with leprosy were excluded. They had to shout unclean. They had to wear different clothing. They had to be excluded from the community. It was an awful sentence. Not alone were you very sick you were also an outcast. In the gospel from Mark the desperation that this exclusion leads to is clearly seen in the person with leprosy. He came to Jesus and he pleaded on his knees to be cured.
If Jesus had followed the accepted norms of the time he would have ignored the man. If the man persisted he would have ordered him to go away. However Jesus did not do this. He did what was unthinkable at the time. He touched the man. He was tender and compassionate towards this man. These are feelings that the man would not have experienced all through his illness. Rather than being declared unclean he was touched and he was healed. He was included again in the community. That is what gave him so much joy and excitement - a joy and excitement that he could not contain so he told everybody no matter what Jesus told him.
Jesus did not see difference as a barrier to anything. He always reached out the one who felt different - the one who felt inferior - the one who felt excluded and brought them into the community. This was an unpopular thing to do. It broke laws. It lost him influential friends and it ultimately cost him his life. Jesus never protected himself. He always protected the most vulnerable. Jesus never cared for himself first. He always cared for the other. His life was lived for the good of other people. His life continues to be lived for the good of other people.
Through our baptism we share in the life of Jesus. Therefore we are called to live as he lived. This has daily implications for the decisions and choices that we make. Yes it is understandable in today's climate that we feel vulnerable and our natural reaction is that we try to protect ourselves first even if this is at the expense of others. Sadly in the recent cutbacks in the republic 95m€ was cut from the over seas aid budget - the budget for the developing world and there was nearly no objection to it. This is evidence of where we try to protect ourselves at the expense of others. This creates exclusion. It is selfish. It is not Christian. It was selfishness that brought us into this mess and I cannot see how selfishness can bring us out of it.
Scripture challenges us to reject attitudes like British jobs for British workers. It challenge us to ensure that we will not treat others in the same way as we were treated in the past when we emigrated to find better lives. No Irish need apply is a wound of history. We would have very short memories if we adopted an attitude today of nobody but Irish need apply. It is in times of relative need and insecurity that our Christianity is tested most. Please God we will not be found wanting.9th October 2018 Shifting Perspectives
19th June 2018 Thank God I was wrong
16th May 2018 "Today is a new dawn, new, clean and fresh - and so are you, my dear! Don't worry. All is well."
26th March 2018 The Long Winter
7th March 2018 The Gift of Tears
19th January 2018 An Understanding of Kindness
14th December 2017 Do You See This Woman?
17th October 2017 We Are All One with You
7th September 2017 Gaps
20th June 2017 "Love is not loved."
25th April 2017 I Hope You Dance
21st March 2017 From Darkness to Dawn
27th October 2016 The Bright Field
27th June 2016 The Enemy Within
31st May 2016 The Little Way to The Almighty
25th January 2016 Love Immeasurable
11th November 2015 Letting Go
21st May 2015 The Gift of Loss
6th May 2015 Walls
24th November 2014 Leaning into Winter
24th October 2014 Crossing the Road
25th June 2014 Fetters of the Soul
30th April 2014 The Power of Gratitude
10th March 2014 The Darkling Thrush
11th February 2014 Spring
10th February 2014 Masks
3rd February 2014 Dancing in the Wind
21st January 2014 Chains of nostalgia
13th January 2014 Forgiving wrongs darker than death or night
7th January 2014 Singing out Loud
17th December 2013 CHRISTMAS FOUND
9th December 2013 Withering into the Truth
2nd December 2013 The Celtic Prayer Garden
25th November 2013 Missing Dates
18th November 2013 NEARER GOD’S HEART
12th November 2013 Night
27th April 2010 Healing God
25th November 2009 Our Poverty
1st September 2009 Which of the two tigers will win the fight?
1st June 2009 Be your own role model
25th May 2009 The Feast of the Ascension of the Lord
18th May 2009 Power of the real presence
7th May 2009 "Lessons I did not learn in School" - by Bill Gates
20th April 2009 JESUS RISES FROM THE DEAD
30th March 2009 The Long Walk to Freedom
23rd March 2009 Become a Friend
16th March 2009 Ireland in Identity Crisis?
9th March 2009 Love to Pray
2nd March 2009 Life - Giving Words
16th February 2009 Exclusion Policy
9th February 2009 Somewhere the Child
2nd February 2009 The Conversion of St Paul
12th January 2009 Thomas Merton, "Thoughts in Solitude"
22nd December 2008 A Christmas Parable by Louis Cassels
15th December 2008 Work – from In the heart of the Temple by Sr Joan Chittister
8th December 2008 Am I at home when the doorbell rings?
1st December 2008 Street Corner Christ
17th November 2008 How Did I Get This Busy?
10th November 2008 A Homily for The Feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica – 9th November 2008
3rd November 2008 John O’Donohue taken from “Benedictus - A Book of Blessings”
27th October 2008 Charles Peguy 1873-1914, French poet and politician
20th October 2008 The following is an extract from a talk given by Bishop George Lungu of Chipata in Zambia in Africa, to the synod of Bishops being held in Rome this month.
13th October 2008 Excerpt from ‘A Door of Hope’ by Jean Vanier
6th October 2008 A Reflection on Matthew's Gospel 21:28-32
29th September 2008 The Daily Decalogue of Pope John XXIII