"If you wish, you can make me clean." Mk 1:41
Communicable and deadly diseases always frighten us. Before anyone knew that HIV/AIDS could not caught by a sneeze or sharing a soft drink, there was immense fear in people about something they did not know. Even after it became clear that AIDS could only be spread by the exchange of body fluids through sexual contact, needle sharing and the very rare blood transfusion, people were still afraid. Something as toxic as AIDS scares us and the same was true in the ancient world regarding leprosy.
That Jesus listened to the desperate pleading of the leper and allowed him to draw near is remarkable. Jesus knew that by associating with the leper he became unclean himself, but it did not matter. The leper was suffering not just from the disease but from the isolation imposed on him and all lepers. Lepers had to tear their clothes and call out "unclean" whenever anyone approached them. What a terrible punishment; what an awful life, but the leper who calls to Jesus for help ignores the teaching of rabbis and so does Jesus. After Jesus cleanses the leper he warns him to tell no one. Of course, the man newly made whole and freed from the desperate loneliness that was his life could not keep quiet. Who could remain silent about such a wonderful gift?
Today, tell someone you have been made clean by the love of God.
How do you think a Christian should respond to people with deadly diseases?