One day, in another town, a man came to Jesus covered with leprosy. On seeing Jesus, the man bowed down to the ground, and said, “Lord, if you want to, you can make me clean.”
Stretching out his hand, Jesus touched the man and said, “Yes, I want to. Be clean.” In an instant the leprosy left him. Then Jesus instructed him, “Tell this to no one. But go and show yourself to the priest. Make an offering for your healing, as Moses prescribed; that will serve as evidence for them.”
But the news about Jesus spread all the more, and large crowds came to him, to listen and to be healed of their sickness. As for Jesus, he would often withdraw to solitary places and pray.
I once had a rare skin disease that broke out all over my body in nasty rashes. At the doctor’s office, the patients in the waiting room avoided sitting beside me fearful that what I had was contagious. At that moment, I could understand how disease can be an isolating experience. Perhaps the man covered with leprosy in today’s Gospel did not only feel isolated, but also felt unloved and unlovable in his uncleanness. While it is understandable for people to be afraid of diseases, we are at the same time challenged to look into our fears and to see how our fearful attitude can affect others and our relationships in community. The feeling of rejection is not just skin-deep. It leaves a deep wound in the core of a person’s being. Jesus understands the roots of our illnesses—what blinds us, paralyzes us, and what makes us break out in leprosy. He is not afraid to touch and be touched deeply. He fully understands the inner illness that makes us untouchable and unacceptable even to ourselves. He demonstrates to us the power of touch that brings healing to our brokenness, restoring us back to wholeness.
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