Xenophobia to Xenophilia......
"But it is very clear that this parable shows the importance and the necessity of ethnic healing"
What do we mean when we say Jesus the healer? When we go through the pages of the Bible we can see that Jesus healed people in many ways. Let me give you a few examples. Jesus healed people from physical illnesses like Blindness. We know the story of Bartimaeus. Jesus healed people by casting away demons. Where the Samaritan women and Zacchaeus are concerned Jesus was able to heal them from social isolation. Here we see that Jesus’ healing ministry was not confined to one area of life. He was able to grant the healing of body, mind and spirit.
The next question is why did he heal people? Did he heal people to earn something or to marvel at people? You know the answer is NO. Then what was the reason? This is connected to the main purpose of his ministry. Jesus came to this world to proclaim the Kingdom of God. The healings that he performed were the signs of this Kingdom. Because in God’s Kingdom, people enjoy healing. This healing is the wholesome healing of body, mind and spirit. As disciples of Jesus, we are called to get involved in this wholesome healing.
This is the main reason that Christians throughout the ages got involved in establishing churches, schools and hospitals. Churches for spiritual healing, schools for mental healing and hospitals for physical healing. But today we are called to get involved in another healing ministry. That is the ministry of ethnic healing.
Jesus during his lifetime was fully involved in this ministry. Let’s try to understand the ways in which he performed this ministry. During his earthly ministry, he had to deal with the ethnic issue of Jews and Samaritans. Once he contributed to ethnic healing by narrating a parable. This is the famous parable of the Good Samaritan. Traditionally the Church has been saying that Jesus narrated this parable to show “Who is our neighbour”. But it is very clear that this parable shows the importance and the necessity of ethnic healing. The Samaritan had to break the narrow ethnic boundary to facilitate the healing of the fallen Jewish man. The fallen Jewish man had to cross his majority ethnic limitations to accept the help of the minority Samaritan to start his healing process.
What really happened here was the Xenophobia of the Jew and the Samaritan was transformed into Xenophilia. Here the word xenophobia means the fear of strangers, foreigners or others who are not with us. What I mean by Xenophilia is the love for foreigners, strangers and others who are not with us.
Today if we are to become effective members of God’s kingdom we are called to be involved in the ministry of Xenophilia. We are called to take steps to reduce and minimise the fear of foreigners, strangers and others who are not with us but in the midst of us. This may be between Sinhala and Tamil people, Christians and Buddhists or Hindus or between any other group.
You may start this ministry here and now. In our midst, we have many strangers, foreigners or others who are not really in ‘my group’. Make every effort to help them by understanding their situations. Be sensitive to their feelings. If we are to be involved in this healing ministry, before I have my own way, I must be able to have a good understanding of the repercussions of my actions on other people. Even after my actions, I must take every step to make the other comfortable. If we follow this Xenophilia, without any doubt we will be able to contribute to the healing process of society.
Throughout his earthly ministry, Jesus performed this healing ministry of Xenophilia. We know he started his ministry with Jews, his own people. But he kept on expanding his boundaries by getting involved in this healing ministry of Xenophilia. That is why Jesus became the Saviour of the world and not just the Saviour of the Jews.
Let us ask God’s help for us to become active members of this healing ministry of Xenophilia in God’s kingdom here and now. May God bless you! Amen.