EXTEND A HAND
Happiness is only possible where we feel welcome and accepted. Where welcome is lacking, life is lacking; our being gets paralyzed; creativity dries up. That’s why a «closed society is a society without a future, a society that kills hope for the life of the marginalized, and that ends up collapsing on itself» (Jurgen Moltmann).
There are many factors that invite men and women in our time to live in closed and exclusive circles. In a society where insecurity is growing, indifference or aggressiveness is understandable because each one of us tries to secure our «little happiness» next to those we feel are our equals.
People who are like us, who think and want the same things we do, give us security. On the other hand, people who are different, who think, feel and want something different, cause us to be unsettled and fearful.
That’s why nations group together in ‘blocks’ that look at others with hostility. That’s why each one of us seeks our own ‘corner of security’, that circle of friends, closed to those who aren’t of our own condition.
We live «on the defensive», each time more incapable of breaking through the distances to adopt a stance of friendship open to all people. We’ve become accustomed to only accept those who are close to us. The rest we tolerate or look at with indifference, if not caution and prejudice.
Naively we think that, if each one worries about securing their small piece of happiness, humanity will keep walking toward well-being. And we don’t notice that we are creating marginalization, isolation, and loneliness. And that in this society it’s getting harder and harder to be happy.
That’s why Jesus’ gesture has special meaning for us. Jesus doesn’t only make the leper clean. He extends his hand and touches him, breaking through prejudices, taboos and barriers of isolation and marginalization that exclude lepers from the common lived experience. Jesus’ followers need to feel ourselves called to give friendship that’s open to the marginalized sectors or our society. There are many who need a hand extended to reach out and touch them.
José Antonio Pagola
Translator: Fr. Jay VonHandorf