If you wish you can make me clean.
So says the leper to Jesus, when he knelt in front of our saviour. And of course, the Good Lord did, and made him clean.
As Catholic gentlemen, and to a greater degree, as 4th degree knights, we should all be lepers. Yes, that’s right, you heard me. Lepers.
To be a leper is to be shunned not for who we are, but what we stand for. Throughout history, lepers have been sequestered away. Hidden from public view, because they are different, and more importantly, because the popular culture at the time, held that their disease was highly contagious.
And yet, Jesus, 2000 years ago, stretched out his hand and TOUCHED a leper. And of course, he healed him. My brothers, I have personally seen lepers before. In Malaysia, the government built a hospital specialy for lepers, deep in the jungle. Pretty soon, a town grew from that hospital as lepers from all over the country came there to avoid being shunned by the masses. My father always brought his sons to visit the leprosy centre (as it was called). They made great flower pot stands, and grew fantastic orchids. Every month, we’d go visit and drink tea in the uncle and auntie’s house. We learnt that they were just like our other uncles and aunties…no different except that uncle had only 2 fingers in one hand, and big hole where his nose used to be.
So what has all this to do with being a Catholic gentleman and a 4th degree Knight?
Quite a lot actually. As Catholic gentlemen, we are called to wear our faith on our sleeves. No less than Pope John Paul II exhorted Catholics to spread the news, in his “new evangelization”. In an age when Catholics in general and men in particular are facing great challenges in the face of the popular culture, we stand out as beacons, or in some places, like lepers.
We are the guys who don’t laugh when people make jokes about priests and nuns. We are the guys who speak out when some injustice is done in the workplace. We are the guys who strong family men, and every single one of our colleagues knows that. And yes, we are sometimes, the only in who believes in the supremacy of God and his church.
As 4th degree Knights, and the public arm of the KOC, we stand for all of that, and more. We are like lepers who proudly parade ourselves, proud of what we stand for.
The pastor today recounted a story of a doll, made of salt that was roaming all over the place, until he came to the sea. He found himself inexorably attracted to the sea. So he called on the sea: What is it about you that attracts me so? And the sea replied…well, why don’t you come into my embrace and I will tell you. Well, the doll of salt walked into the sea. With each step, he melted away, until, only his head remained. With his last breath, he said, well, now I know….its not about YOU, mr Sea. It was about ME! I finally know
who I am, and what I am made of!
Sir Knights. Being a leper isn’t a bad thing. Its about knowing who YOU are, and what YOU stand for. Knowing that, you can now be a more complete Knight. And a better Catholic gentleman.