I had been a leper for 30 years. It wasn't very bad at first. My family knew the law, and like me, covered up the first few signs on my skin. Gradually, as the white, flaky areas started to spread, it was impossible to hide, and even my loved ones bowed to the law and sent me away.
I understood the reason for my exile out of towns and my separation from any contact with others. Of course, there was the fact that I was contagious. But, beyond that, these signs of inflammation and disease of my skin indicated that I was a sinner. Something inside of me must be decayed or unclean. That is the real reason a leper like me is expelled from society and from contact with anyone. Any person who even got close to me would be rendered unclean themselves.
So, I lived in isolation in the wilderness. This disease is bad enough, but the isolation is worse. The feeling of being unclean, contagious, "un-touchable," is horrible. I examined myself over and over and asked, "What have you done? What inner disorder is showing itself on my skin?" It didn't matter that I couldn't find big things. After a while, I just felt horrible about myself. I started to see myself as one disgusting mess. I happily did what the law required. I shouted, "Unclean! Unclean!" whenever anyone would come near me, to warn them, that I was no good, that I was toxic, that I was to be shunned at all costs.
Most people just altered their path and avoided me. Sometimes people would shout obscenities at me, just to make sure I wouldn't come close. Most just looked afraid. One time, I heard a person damn me to hell. I heard his companion say, "Maybe the prophet from Nazareth could help this wretched soul. After all, he has cured so many." The first fellow responded, "Who knows. I hear the Nazarene eats and drinks with sinners. But, I can't imagine he'd be defiled by a leper." And, he continued cursing at me.
It couldn't have been a few days later that I came out of the cave I used for shelter to the sound of a group of travelers coming by. I did my customary shouting, "Unclean! Unclean!" Then I saw him. I knew who he was immediately - such a stunning man, walking with such confidence, yet his bearing communicated such peace. But, then his eyes met mine. There was no fear at all in his eyes. Just compassion and love. It was so clear, in just this connection of our eyes, that he felt so sad about my state, my isolation.
For the first time in memory, I felt courage and hope. Going against everything I had learned, I ran up to him and fell on my knees in front of him and boldly said, “Lord, if you wish, you can make me clean.” Everyone stopped to listen to what he would say. It was as though I stopped breathing when he reached out and touched me. He touched me - the un-touchable one. You can't know what it is to feel so vile and to be touched the way he touched me. Then he spoke those word I'll never forget, “I will do it. Be made clean.”
My shame left me immediately. And then my skin was transformed. The tears of joy must have told him how grateful I was. He just smiled and embraced me. Everyone of his fellow travelers embraced me as well. We were laughing and crying together. Jesus was laughing and enjoying our joy the most.
He had restored me to communion again because he had compassion on me. He has that same compassion for everyone who suffers. Be bold. Ask him. Let him restore you to communion, too.
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