Jesus heals a Leper (*Warning*)
In today’s Gospel from the Mass (Luke 5:12-16), there is an astounding account of one of the times that Jesus heals a Leper (warning, at the bottom of this post is an image of leprosy). From the Gospel of Luke:
 While he was in one of the cities, there came a man full of leprosy; and when he saw Jesus, he fell on his face and besought him, “Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.”  And he stretched out his hand, and touched him, saying, “I will; be clean.” And immediately the leprosy left him.  And he charged him to tell no one; but “go and show yourself to the priest, and make an offering for your cleansing, as Moses commanded, for a proof to the people.”  But so much the more the report went abroad concerning him; and great multitudes gathered to hear and to be healed of their infirmities.  But he withdrew to the wilderness and prayed.
The actions of Jesus are absolutely astounding for a number of reasons:
- Most today are unfamiliar with leprosy, a horrific disease that still exists today. Leprosy is a disease that causes skin sores, nerve damage, muscle weakness and numbness; it caused horrible disfigurement. It is highly contagious and there was no treatment during the first century; people with leprosy were cast out of the communities and lived destitute in leper colonies.
- For Jews, a leper was considered “unclean” and were quarantined from regular society (Lev 13:45-46). This also meant that a leper were outside of the Temple and lacked a spiritual community. It was absolutely forbidden to touch a leper (Lev 5:3) and there were strict sanctions against anyone foolish enough to come in contact with a leper.
- When the Leper humbly approaches and cries out to Jesus, begging Him to make him “clean” and having complete trust that Jesus can make him clean, Jesus touches the leper and the Leper is completely and immediately cured. Jesus does the impossible: curing leprosy with a simple touch.
- By touching the Leper, Jesus is willing to risk being considered unclean Himself, both because He might contract the disease (but, as God, He knew He wouldn’t) and that the priests would bar Him from the Temple and the community. Jesus is countercultural and a risk-taker.
- After healing the Leper, Jesus tells the man to fulfill the Law of Moses by presenting himself to a priest and making an offering: this allowed the man to not only be accepted back into the community, but to be accepted back into the Temple.
- Jesus heals the man physically of the incurable, heals him spiritually of his sins and returns him to the Jewish community. Jesus heals the whole person!
In a recent post, the point was made that to draw closer to Jesus Christ, Man can read the scripture seeking to find evidence of Jesus’ Awesomeness and then looking for ways to put the words and deeds of Jesus in a 21st century context. By doing so, Man becomes more and more awed by Jesus and grows in willingness to give himself more completely to Jesus.
One way to put things in perspective for a 21st century Man, is to find ways to “see” what Jesus is doing in the Gospels. Here is image of what a leprosy looks like: