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Wednesday, August 3, 2016
Today’s Reading | Luke 5:12–16
Once, when he was in one of the cities, there was a man covered with leprosy. When he saw Jesus, he bowed with his face to the ground and begged him, “Lord, if you choose, you can make me clean.” Then Jesus stretched out his hand, touched him, and said, “I do choose. Be made clean.” Immediately the leprosy left him. And he ordered him to tell no one. “Go,” he said, “and show yourself to the priest, and, as Moses commanded, make an offering for your cleansing, for a testimony to them.” But now more than ever the word about Jesus spread abroad; many crowds would gather to hear him and to be cured of their diseases. But he would withdraw to deserted places and pray. (NRSV)
Jesus was breaking down barriers that no one dared to cross. There was no one more banned and cut off from the community than a leper. Lepers were expected to live alone or in colonies with each other. Any decent person in Jesus’ time would have followed the custom of staying at least 150 feet away from a leper, but Jesus intentionally sought him out and actually touched him.
By touching the leper, Jesus was completely going against what society considered normal or even safe, but his goal was to change society and break down discrimination, to go against the norm that considered this person worthless. Jesus loved this person and gave wholeness and healing—not only to the leper but, through him, to the whole world. The leper becomes symbolic, because if Jesus could touch and heal a leper, then absolutely no one was, or is now, beyond redemption.
As followers of Jesus, Christians are called to break down barriers that divide us and restore all people to wholeness. We are called to change the systems in our society that hold people back, that segregate and divide us. Christians are called to be peacemakers bringing healing and salvation as Jesus did to even the most unlikely recipient.
Are we building up walls that divide or bridges that connect? Are we unjustly labeling people, or do we see each person as a child of God? Jesus was clear in his goal to touch and embrace the most untouchable person he could have found. Jesus Christ expects us to do the same even today.
Loving God, help me share your love, your embrace, your healing, with a person in need today. But do not let that love stop with one person, but go on to another and another until the whole world knows your love. Amen.
Written by John W. W. Sherer, Organist and Director of Music
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