“Isolation” is now politely called “sheltering in place.” Controlling diseases that are thought to be highly contagious require placing people where they are unable to spread the sickness. Today we know the dynamic. We, though, can put on our mask and run to the store to be with other masked people and quickly grab that which we cannot do without. We cheat “death.” In Biblical times isolation was also used for contagious diseases but the most feared was leprosy. Jesus leaves Peter’s home early in the morning, leaves the people gathering to be healed, and heads to “nearby villages – so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.” Preaching sounds a lot safer than dealing with masses of sick people! So what new lesson do we learn?
Mark immediately enters the next scenario in chapter 1, a man with leprosy encounters Jesus, falls on his knees and pleads, “If you are willing, you can make me clean.” A man with an unclean spirit at the synagogue, a widow with a fever laying in bed, and now Jesus faces an isolated man, condemned to live out his disease who voices our cry, “Lord, if you are willing.” I listen to women praying a similar prayer to get help for loosing weight. Their will power has a problem. We talk about systemic evil like prejudice and hatred in our world but that seems to come back to our heart and will power. For the leper, no amount of will power or changed behavior was going to make him well. He needed a divine intervention, a miracle.
Today as we come to Jesus, our situation may be the lack of will power to deal with our addiction – to food or whatever, or it may be an external illness like a fever, but for some we need a miracle. Mark 1:41 says that Jesus was filled with compassion, not revulsion, and he reached out his hand and touched the man. Not everyone receives a miracle but we all receive compassion and God reaches out to all of us in one way or another. We may face isolation from people but we do not face isolation from God. We may need to wear masks but that does not stop prayer. We may be at the bottom of the line for the vaccine but God can still touch us. Jesus says in this scenario, “I am willing!” Let those words ring in your heart today – I am willing to be with you, to see you, to touch you, and to care. Thank you, Lord!