Project Description

15CDeuteronomy 30:10-14 / Colossians 1;15-20 / Luke 10:25-37
Has anyone ever heard of John Bradburne?

John Bradburne?

Well I hadn’t either until just a few days ago—
Amazing story!!!
Inspiring!!!

John was born in 1921—
the son of an Anglican priest in England.

One day, while serving in World War II,
a fellow soldier asked John,
“What do you do?”

And he couldn’t answer the question.

That’s the question the world
always asks us, isn’t it?

“What do we DO?”

After the war,
John had a few brief jobs—
forestry—
teaching—
nothing seemed to fit.

He was searching for more—
He was searching for who he really was—
He was searching for God.

In 1947,
John became Catholic.

He tried to become a monk—
Twice in England—
and once in Belgium—
but that wasn’t who he was.

Still searching—
Still searching.

He fell in love and came close to marrying—
But that didn’t pan out.

He kept wandering around—
Trying to find himself—
He said, “I’m like a drone.”

While living for a year in southern Italy,
he made a private vow to the Virgin Mary
that he would remain celibate.

He ended up in Africa looking for a cave—
A cave where he could be a hermit—
and just pray—
Still searching for God and who he was.

In 1969—
after three years in Africa—
he and a friend went to visit a leper colony in Rhodesia—
now Zimbabwe.

It was disgusting!!!
It was atrocious!!!

The lepers were dirty and hungry.

Their huts were tiny—
Their roofs were falling in.

When John Bradburne saw all of this—
His eyes were opened—
Now he saw!!!

“I’m staying,” he said.

And he did.

He stayed there with the lepers
until he died in 1979.

He became the caretaker of the leper colony.

He gave the lepers the care that a child of God deserves.

He improved their hygiene.

He improved their housing.

He would drive away the rats
that would gnaw on their
unfeeling arms and legs.

He bathed them.

He cut the fingernails and
the toenails of those who
still had fingers and toes.

He fed them.

He washed their wounds.

He knew them all well—
He wrote a poem about each one of them.

There were more than 80.

He helped them build a small church.

He taught them Gregorian chant.

And as they lay dying—
he read them the Gospel.

John eventually had a falling out with
the Rhodesian Leper Association.

He was too extravagant with them, they charged.

Extravagant for trying to give them
one loaf of bread every week.

Extravagant because he refused
to put numbers around their necks—
insisting that they were people with names—
not livestock.

John was expelled from the leper colony.

So he moved nearby and lived as a hermit—
And became a secular Franciscan.

He lived in a hut with no electricity
and no running water—
still taking care of the lepers the
best he could—
often at night.

John was their neighbor—
“Neighbor” in a very elevated sense—
“Neighbor” the way Jesus describes it.

Love your neighbor as yourself—
Jesus charges in today’s Gospel.

We all know the parable of the Good Samaritan.

We’ve heard it a million times—
What Jesus says is no mystery to us.

Jesus—
while being quizzed on the law—
teaches us to love God with all our hearts—
with all our being—
with all our strength—
and with all our might.

And—
And—
love your neighbor as yourself.

Which leads to the question,
“Who is our neighbor?”

And it’s the Samaritan—
The sworn enemy of the Jews—
that’s who the “neighbor” is
in the Jesus sense of the term

That’s who takes care of fallen Jew—
It’s the sworn enemy.

Now we’ve all got the lepers in our lives.

Isn’t that a great metaphor for our sworn enemies?

Those we avoid—well—like lepers.

Those we hold our nose when we’re around.

Those we look down on.

Those we think are unclean—
Those who think different than us—
Those who act different than us.

We want them segregated—
Keep them away from me.

don’t want to be around—
Keep them in their own camp.

Lepers—
what a great metaphor for our sworn enemies.

But according to Jesus—
They’re our neighbors.

Love God and love your neighbor as yourself.

Who are our lepers?
Our sworn enemies?

Election year is coming up—
I love democracy—
But I hate election seasons.

We get kind of mean don’t we—
no matter what side we’re on.

I want you to think—

Who is the political figure that you despise?

They come on TV—
and the stench permeates from the TV

Is he or she a Democrat?—
or a Republican?
Or a Socialist?

Are they conservative?
Or a liberal?

Whoever she or he is?

Jesus says—
they’re our neighbor.

Love your neighbor as yourself.

Think of work?

Think of that one person who drives you crazy.

Think of the person who undercuts you.

The person who talks behind your back.

The person always stirring up trouble for you.

The person out to get you.

Or maybe he or she is the one
who just won’t pull their weight.

According to Jesus—
They’re our neighbor.

Love your neighbor as yourself.

Think of family!

Probably a few lepers there too.

Who are our lepers?. . . .
Our sworn enemies?

According to Jesus,
they’re our neighbor.

Love your neighbor as yourself.
Sounds impossible—
doesn’t it?!?!

Well, it is—
for us.

But nothing is impossible with God.

That’s why the first commandment—
the first one—
is to love God with all of our being.

When we do this—
That’s when grace starts to work.

Love God with all we’ve got—
And let grace work—
And slowly but surely!!!

A couple of footnotes!

Jesus says love our neighbor—
Not necessarily like them.

That’s impossible.

You see to love someone means willing the best—
Willing the good for them.

We don’t contribute to their demise as a person—

We help them along the way.

And if we don’t feel like doing that—
Do it anyway—
We’re more than our feelings.

Love your neighbor—
Let grace work.

Second footnote.

Loving someone doesn’t mean
we have to agree with them.

Loving someone doesn’t mean
we don’t stand up for what we believe in.

Or that we don’t challenge someone.

As a matter of fact,
Love may demand it.

We have a lot of neighbors to look after.

But always from the position of love—
And care and respect for the other.

Not acting out of love—
Will, in the long run—
Make things worse—
It will darken our soul

Let grace work.
Love your neighbor.

John Bradburn—
Eventually was kidnapped and
killed while taking care of the lepers.

They think he had made some people mad
when he had challenged for
taking away food from the lepers.

His cause for canonization will be opened in September.

The first question is not what we do.

It’s who we are.
Everything flows from that.

We are Christians—
That’s who we are.

Love God with all our being—
and watch grace happen.

Let grace work and love our neighbor as ourselves—
Let grace work and love the lepers in our midst.
Holy Spirit 07/13-14/2019