And a leper came to him, imploring him, and kneeling said to him, “If you will, you can make me clean.” Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand and touched him and said to him, “I will; be clean.” And immediately the leprosy left him, and he was made clean. And Jesus sternly charged him and sent him away at once, and said to him, “See that you say nothing to anyone, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded, for a proof to them.” But he went out and began to talk freely about it, and to spread the news, so that Jesus could no longer openly enter a town, but was out in desolate places, and people were coming to him from every quarter. Mark 1: 40 – 45
The title above borrowed from the book “Love in the Time of Cholera” by Gabriel García Márquez fits this short devotion on one of Jesus healings. The healing of a leper is recorded early in Mark’s Gospel and reveals much about the nature of Jesus’ unreserved love which is so relevant to us in this time of pandemic and the social distancing which has impacted everyone.
Lepers (or those with any form of skin disease) were social outcasts, unable to live in Jewish society and thus condemned to live only with other sufferers. They were obliged by law to warn others of their condition and not come within about 5 metres of any other person. If they approached anyone too closely they were at risk of being stoned. So for a leper to approach Jesus was in itself risky for Jesus and the Leper. Jesus is unperturbed but then does the unthinkable….he touches him – such an action would render Jesus seriously unclean himself….. Jesus is unperturbed by the illness but troubled deeply by the rejection felt by this man
Despite the possibility of infection, Jesus would not withdraw the love and deep healing this desperate man needed. Jesus instructs the man to go to the priest to witness the cleansing (healing) as required by the law but He knows that this will not only bring the man healing but also social acceptance as cleansed. The restoration of a man by a simple touch – LOVE in the time of infection.
Now I am not recommending that we rip off our masks, dispense with handwashing and go about touching everyone – but demonstrations of love are perfectly possible and they are desperately needed…. People need to know of the love of Jesus, of the hope of Jesus and of the joy of Jesus at this time and WE are bearers and practitioners of that amazing good news.
Let us practice love in the time of pandemic by:
- Praising Father for the love shown in Jesus to all who suffer.
- Asking God to help us mirror His love to all those in need of healing and restoration.