Jesus Heals a Man With Leprosy
40 A man with leprosy [a] came to him and begged him on his knees, “If you are willing, you can make me clean.”
41 Jesus was indignant.[b] He reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” 42 Immediately leprosy left him, and he was cleansed.
43 Jesus sent him away at once with a strong warning: 44 “See that you don’t tell this to anyone. But go, show yourself to the priest and offer the sacrifices that Moses commanded for your cleansing, as a testimony to them.” 45 Instead, he went out and began to talk freely, spreading the news. As a result, Jesus could no longer enter a town openly but stayed outside in lonely places. Yet the people still came to him from everywhere.
The Old Testament emphasizes how a leper could live within the society, 2 “Command the Israelites to send away from the camp anyone who has a defiling skin disease[a] or a discharge of any kind, or who is ceremonially unclean because of a dead body.” (Numbers 5:2 NIV), and “4 “‘If a descendant of Aaron has a defiling skin disease[a] or a bodily discharge, he may not eat the sacred offerings until he is cleansed. He will also be unclean if he touches something defiled by a corpse or by anyone who has an emission of semen,” (Leviticus 22:4), Leprosy was a disease regarded with terror and everyone was afraid of it. Lepers were separated from the Society and excluded to camps far away from the towns or villages.
What a horrifying existence!
Lepers not only had to bear the physical pain of their disease, but they also had to endure the mental anguish and the heartbreak of being utterly cut-off from family members and friends. They were totally shunned and cut-off from humankind.
This was according to Jewish Law.
Mark’s Gospel tells us that a leper broke the Law by running up to Jesus and begging Him to make him clean or cure him. Jesus did not drive him away, but He was filled with compassion and mercy for him and extended his hand and touched the leper. And with the touch of Jesus’ hand, the leper was cured, and leprosy left his body, and he was made clean again.
Does it sound familiar today? Are people and relationships more important than legalism and rituals? Jesus chose compassion!
Today, we should follow Jesus and choose compassion for our neighbors and to the stranger.
Nowadays, Jesus could heal us from a distance. However, Jesus overcomes our own isolation and touches our lives in a way that transforms us to do the same. Do we have a personal touch? Is this what we are called to have? Jesus says: “As you go proclaim the good news, ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons.”
Everyone comes into this world needing to be touched, and this need continues till we are dead.
Today we have a different kind of leprosy, but the situation is somehow similar. These people are our neighbors, colleagues, classmates, teachers, members of the Church, and friends. They are crippled by some pain, memory from the past, a lingering illness, or a particular virus. They need someone to reach out and touch them. Someone who will love them; see their pain; have compassion, and see their suffering.
Let us see humanity through Jesus’ eyes if you are going to be faithful followers of Christ. We are to touch others with the Holy touch of Jesus to transform their lives too.