“8 When Jesus had come down from the mountain, great crowds followed him; 2 and there was a leper who came to him and knelt before him, saying, ‘Lord, if you choose, you can make me clean.’ 3 He stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, ‘I do choose. Be made clean!’ Immediately his leprosy was cleansed. 4 Then Jesus said to him, ‘See that you say nothing to anyone; but go, show yourself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.’
The Gospel of Matthew reports that as Jesus came down from the Sermon on the Mount that opened his ministry, he met a crowd of people wanting his help. Among them was a leper, an untouchable. Today we have hospitals and homes where we put people that we believe have communicable diseases like Coved or people who are hard to “touch” like people with dementia, mental illness or addiction. We have halfway homes, group homes, and detox places. Perhaps “leprosy” is not the disease that strikes fear into our heart and scares us away from social interaction but we have our own forms of leprous people we avoid.
Many of us also have a skeleton in our closet or a past experience we would just as soon others not know about for fear of rejection. We might call it leprosy of the soul. It is that guilt over deeds in the past that eats away at our self-esteem. The man turned to Jesus – and this is before anyone truly understood the deity of Christ. I’m sure the man had tried home remedies and finally had to admit his problem. He is untouchable. But then Jesus arrives in his neighborhood.
Interestingly the man approaches Jesus and says, “If you choose.” He did not ask, “Can you.”? He appealed to God’s will. He asked to be clean. The topic of healing is a bit touchy as it seems God chooses to heal some by various means in addition to miracles and others seems to spend their lifetime battling their disease. God is always willing to forgive the leprosy of the soul, the guilt that eats away at us and makes us think we are untouchable. That is the promise of the cross. Are we willing to turn to Jesus and humble ourselves before him and seek his forgiveness? Jesus later says in Matthew 11:28-30, “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.’” That is an invitation we can keep in our pocket today for those moments when we feel untouchable. Blessings.