“A leopard never changes its spots.” Ed was applying for a job. His background check showed that he had been in a gang and spent time in jail when he was in high school and his prospective employer was understandably hesitant about hiring him. True, that’s where Ed had first received the technical training that prepared him for this particular job, but why had he ever decided to join a gang in the first place?
Perhaps a deeper look into Ed’s history would have helped. The son of a single working mom and an absent dad, Ed had spent a great deal of time alone as a kid. There wasn’t anybody there to make his breakfast in the morning so he generally went to school hungry (when he actually did go to school; after all, it’s not like there was anyone there to check up on him). And everyone knows that it’s no fun coming home to an empty house, especially when there are other places to go.
Actually, if possible, things began to get better for Ed while he was in jail. Ed really did want to learn, but he’d never had anyone who believed he could. John taught shop classes for the inmates. He saw potential in Ed and encouraged him to go on to graduate from the local technical college after he was released. Ed had changed.
But our society isn’t any quicker than the people of Jesus’ time to believe someone like Ed when he tells us that he’s been healed. In fact, maybe it was precisely to save the leper from becoming discouraged by the responses of his community that Jesus told him to “… tell no one anything but go, show [him]self to the priest and offer for [his] cleansing what Moses prescribed,” because Jesus knew that’s what it would take for the people to welcome the leper back.
A negative background check can make it difficult for someone to convince people that he or she has been “healed.” Unfortunately for Ed, however, it may take more than offering what Moses prescribed for his cleansing to get him that job.
Van Benthem is a member of the Secular Franciscan Order and a longtime pastoral minister in the diocese.