Last fall I traveled with a group of colleagues from the Mayo Clinic to Rome and Assisi in Italy. Since an order of Franciscan sisters along with the Mayo brothers co-founded our institution, our guide asked us to connect the stories of Francis and Clare of Assisi with the values that guide our work. Walking where Francis and Clare walked made real their faithful responses to God’s call to love and serve their neighbors. As we trekked through churches important to Francis and Clare, daily sharing the bread and cup in worship, we listened for what renewed calls to service might mean for our lives and work.

Francis was a wealthy young man, and he explored all that eleventh-century life had to offer for someone of his station. Like most people of his time, he was repulsed by lepers and wrote of his nausea when he was near them. In spite of his revulsion, he was moved one day to dismount from his horse, approach a leper, and embrace him. Whether he reflected on the experience in the moment is unclear, but he wrote that after the encounter those he had most feared and avoided became the embodiment of Christ for him. He renounced his family’s wealth to share the lot of brothers and sisters living at society’s borders, those who were exiled from the practice of their faith and the love of their families.

As Jesus crosses the boundaries of purity laws that prohibit contact with lepers to offer healing and restoration to community, Francis crossed the boundaries of his fears to meet Christ in those who were living as exiles in their own homeland. Many months after our pilgrimage to Italy, I pause at the boundaries standing between me and increased faithfulness and pray for the willingness to cross.

O One who offered new life to ten lepers and who strengthened Francis for love and service, give me courage to reach out in love to those I fear. Amen.

Pray the Scriptures Using Audio Lectio
Read Luke 17:11-19

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Lectionary Week
October 7–13, 2019
Scripture Overview

Through Jeremiah, God sends a message to the people in exile: They are to seek good for the city of Babylon, their new home. God will bless the city and in doing so will bless God’s people. The psalmist encourages the people to praise God with songs recounting past challenges through which God’s powerful deeds have brought them. This can be encouragement for those currently experiencing difficulties. In Second Timothy, Paul encourages his protégé to endure suffering if necessary. In fact, Timothy should expect to experience resistance. Although the apostle is in chains, the word of God is powerful and can never be chained. The story in Luke reminds us of a basic truth: We should remember to show gratitude to God for answered prayers.

Questions and Suggestions for Reflection

Read Jeremiah 29:1, 4-7. When have you experienced physical or metaphorical exile? How has God helped you to thrive in your Babylon?
Read Psalm 66:1-12. Recall a time of division in your family or community of faith. How did God bring you individually and collectively to a spacious place?
Read 2 Timothy 2:8-15. How do you remember Christ in your actions toward others?
Read Luke 17:11-19. What boundaries keep you from full wellness that can be found in Jesus Christ?

Respond by posting a prayer.