Many years ago the Prince of Wales visited India. A barrier had been set up to keep back the masses of people who wanted to catch a glimpse of this heir to the British throne.
When he arrived, the prince shook hands with some of the dignitaries who were presented to him. Then, looking over their heads to the crowds beyond, he said, “Take down those barriers.”
The barriers were quickly removed and all of the people, regardless of their social rank, had free access to the prince. Sometime later when the prince came to that district again, over 10,000 outcasts waited under a banner which celebrated the prince who removed the barriers, calling him, “The Prince of the Outcasts.”
If ever there was a “Prince of the Outcasts,” it was Jesus. From the beginning of his ministry, it was clear that outcasts were a priority with him. For example, in Mark 1:40-45, Jesus expressed his compassion for a leper by touching him. Most people would have healed the man first and then touched him. By touching the leper, he himself would be made ceremonially unclean. Jesus paid no attention to such matters as religious protocol. His only concern was people. He loved people.
In today’s Gospel reading (Matthew 17:10-13), Jesus tells his disciples that the long-awaited return of the Prophet Elijah has occurred in the person of John the Baptist. John had come to prepare the way for the Messiah, “The Prince of the Outcasts.”
The hardest part about being an outcast isn’t the love you don’t receive.
It’s the hug you long to give that nobody wants.