Leprosy was a highly contagious skin disease that led to certain death for anyone who caught it in Jesusʼ
time. For good reason the Jewish law demanded that a leper live set apart and scream out as he walked along to keep everyone at a safe distance. Imagine the pitiful scene of everyone discreetly but purposefully moving away at the sound of someone screaming, “Unclean, unclean!”
Yet the leper doesnʼt scream to keep Jesus away. He walks right up to our Lord and confesses his faith in Jesusʼ power to heal him of this incurable bacteria. He humbly admits his contagious illness and places himself before Jesus. And unlike anyone else might do, Jesus doesnʼt run away, he walks toward him. He does the unthinkable. He touches him!
We need not be ashamed of our deadly sin that eats away at our heart and cripples our ability to love. Go to Jesus, expose it to him, and let his loving touch transform you.
The terrible disease of leprosy was still a major problem well into the nineteenth century when St. Damian, a Belgian missionary, went to the Hawaiian Island of Molokai to serve as parish priest to all the lepers quarantined on that island. Not fearing to touch them, he cared for them for many years until, as expected, he contracted the disease and died of it.
This is what it means to be a Christian! Be like Jesus. Be not afraid of your wounds or those of others, no matter how repellent, and give of yourself to care for them.
—Fr. Mark Haydu, LC