In the 17th chapter of the Gospel of Luke, there is a story of Jesus Christ healing 10 lepers who were going towards Jerusalem. When they called out to Jesus for mercy, he gave them the command to go to Jerusalem and show themselves to the Temple priests, who had the authority to declare a person ritually clean … or not.
On their way towards Jerusalem, all 10 lepers realized that they were suddenly healed. The formula for their healing was very simple: The lepers believed and acted upon the command of the Master, and they were healed.
I am the son of immigrant parents who came to this country fleeing from communism, poverty and injustice. My parents worked hard all of their lives and were never able to invest their time in formal education. But, they invested their souls for the betterment of their children.
Part of that was the sincere belief that America is a great country and that no other nation enjoys the freedoms, rights and privileges that Americans do. I was taught by my immigrant parents that no dream was impossible in America, as long as God remained at the epicenter of my heart.
There is no doubt that some Americans feel “short-changed.” That’s fine, and I support them in their sentiment and redress of grievances. At the same time I exhort all of us to cleave to the word of healing, and act upon it, for it is by doing so that true healing is found.
I believe that the following words, found in the American Declaration of Independence, have the power to heal our nation if we simply cleave to them and put them to practice:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
If as a nation we took these words and acted upon them, we would be healed from our divisions. We cannot remain a united nation, if we don’t become a loving nation. It does no good to fan the flames of hatred, division and discord when demanding justice. If we continue to foment hatred of our compatriots, our great country will be torn apart once again.
But if we make the resolute decision as Americans to call one another “friend” and treat one another with respect and divine dignity, then we will find that the “other side” will be willing to listen and come to compromise.
Americans will also need to learn that we are a pluralistic society, and that as such, there will always exist a plethora of opinions and causes. We must learn to work together towards a better day while respecting the boundaries and bridges that are forged through friendship.
If the political climate of the nation has made you unhappy, you have the power to act upon the words of healing in the pursuit of happiness. Healing begins in your heart the moment you begin to look at a compatriot as family, even if you disagree. That is where the healing of our nation begins.
Juan Rivera is the Missions Ambassador for Church of The Cross in Bluffton.