A man with leprosy came to him and begged him on his knees, “If you are willing, you can make me clean.” Jesus was indignant. He reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cleansed. Jesus sent him away at once with a strong warning: “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.” 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.
In this story, Jesus comes face toface with a leper. Lepers suffered from a disease that ancient culturesbelieved to be incredibly debilitating and contagious. This led to theoutcasting of those diagnosed. They were so feared, that if they dared walkdown the streets, outside of the colonies they had been placed in, they had todeclare loudly that they were indeed sick with leprosy. Can you imagine howisolating and humiliating this would be?
And yet here, we witness Jesusencountering such a person with compassion and without fear. You see, the manknows what Jesus is capable of. Whether he has heard stories of the miraclesalready performed or seen them for himself, he is convinced that Jesus iscapable of healing him. And so he takes a massive risk. He not only venturesout of his colony, he approaches Jesus….”If you are willing, you can make meclean.”
And what’s amazing is that Jesus,having full authority and power to heal could simply say the word. And yet,Jesus goes beyond power… he TOUCHES him. Jesus puts himself at risk and offerssomething no one else would have, human touch. It’s a simple act of compassionthat held significant meaning for those who had been left out. It is God’scompassion that leads to the man’s healing.
In a time when fear can so easilygrip us and leave us lacking compassion for the other, Jesus reminds us that itis compassion that casts out fear and leads to healing.
Brothers and sisters, in the season of Covid-19, letus remember that it is our compassion that leads us to stay home. It is ourcompassion that reminds us that self-quarantine is about the least vulnerable.It is not fear that leads the way, but the compassion of God. And when we pairthat compassion with God’s power, the hope of God sheds a light over even thebiggest season of darkness!