“UNCLEAN, UNCLEAN,” that’s how someone in ancient Israel would announce that they have leprosy – that terrible disease that leaves the body mutilated and the person isolated from everything that they loved.
As we heard in our 1st reading, the leper was required by Jewish law to announce their presence when around others and to live as outcasts outside the social life and religious life of their people. Obviously, these regulations were for the good of the community: infected persons were a public health risk and had to be kept separate.
However, for the infected person, the experience was one of misery and isolation. For the rest of their days, they had to live a life of solitude and marginalization. Considered a threat to those around them, the leper was cut off from normal social contact, even from family.
As if that weren’t enough, the leper couldn’t approach the sanctuary to worship, therefore he felt cut-off from God as well.
Today we rarely see an actual case of leprosy. Indeed, most of us have never seen or heard of anyone having it. But there is a similar disease, a counterpart, an equivalent to leprosy that is very much with us. I speak of a spiritual condition that can be referred to as spiritual leprosy.
The distinctive feature of spiritual leprosy, like its physical counterpart, is a progressive loss of feeling. It is a progressive loss of feeling that takes place not in our nerves but in our sensitivity to the Spirit and to its promptings. This progressive loss of contact with the Spirit of God makes spiritual leprosy as threatening to our souls as the physical disease is to our bodies.
Unlike our physical bodies, which are sometimes crippled and diseased beyond repair, our soul can be healed. The key is courage…and a lot of it!
Friends, we need the same kind of courage and determination that we see so clearly in the example of the leper who went to Jesus. We need that same kind of courage and determination as we grapple with our spiritual afflictions.
Quote of the Week
He will provide the way and the means, such as you could never have imagined. Leave it all to him, let go of yourself, lose yourself on the cross, and you will find yourself entirely.