Our world has witnessed how Ebola and COVID-19 overwhelmed the world’s healthcare system by putting scientists on edge. We have also witnessed how viruses caused the deaths of many in the United State and around the world. Ebola particularly affected countries of Africa such as the Congo, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Nigeria. COVID-19 is tagged a global pandemic as no nation is spared in terms of infections and deaths. As more research is conducted with 21stcentury technology, we hope that Ebola and COVID-19 will be totally contained like other deadly viruses in the past.
It appears that at every turn of the century, the world witnesses the intrusion of a deadly virus that defies medical capability. At the time of Jesus over 2,000 years ago, leprosy was a deadly disease that led to the isolation of affected victims to avoid spreading it among the populace. The people avoided them as the lepers wore bells on their legs to remind unaffected people of their presence in the vicinity. Lepers suffered at two levels: loneliness due to isolation and uncleanliness due to religious observation. The book of Leviticus says, “If someone has his skin a scab...he shall cry out, ‘Unclean, unclean!’ As long as the sore is on him, he shall declare himself unclean, since he is in fact unclean. He shall dwell apart, making his abode outside the camp.” This story seems familiar with the way Ebola victims are isolated and threatened to avoid infecting others.
Due to the loneliness and isolation with no medicines, the leper in today’s gospel, crawls and stays by the wayside hoping for assistance from someone. As Jesus was passing by, he made a request, “If you wish, you can make me clean.” This request is borne out of pain, hurt, and complete hopelessness from a man who should be productive but is held down by leprosy. Have you ever wondered how viruses and bacteria can cut short an ambition or a dream? It always appears hopeless to be bogged down by unknown diseases that defy medical treatment. The leper in today’s gospel received his healing with a soothing response from Jesus, ‘I do will it. Be made clean.’
The leprosy left him immediately, and he was made clean.” While we recognize the efforts of physicians, scientists, and other medics to assist the human body find a cure, we must acknowledge the unseen power from above that cures. The body is to be assisted with medicines, but the spirit needs the anointing of God to be totally free of any infection. There are many people in our healthcare systems that need no drugs. Do not get me wrong. The nature of their ailment is spiritual not physical. They perhaps need the touch of someone’s love to bring them wholly alive. Lack of forgiveness due to unconfessed sins can cause a breakdown of the spiritual self. St. Paul admonishes us about this, “Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God. Avoid giving offense . . . just as I try to please everyone in every way, not seeking my own benefit but that of the many, that they may be saved. Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.” The best healing is to be forgiven by a loved one without reserve. Nobody is beyond human error and asking for forgiveness is seeking to begin afresh on a new chapter.
The man with the leprosy was given a new lease of life. He had two healings one from bodily sores and another from spiritual uncleanliness. He could mingle again in the community and not be considered a health hazard. He could offer sacrifice without being considered “unclean” in the temple. It’s important to remember that the body and the spirit need utmost attention in the healing process. One day I went to pray for a child in the hospital. After offering all the prayers, she told me, “Father, I want to see my dad.” Minutes from then the dad appeared. She jumped up. She saw her dad who was kept away from her in a nasty child custody battle. She was discharged soon after seeing her dad. Nishan Panwar, a writer, says, “Forgive those who lie or betray you, don’t keep a heart full of anger, and allow your heart to heal for life holds so much more meaning.” While viruses like COVID-19, Ebola, or leprosy can kill, what kills faster is neglector abandonment. We need to care for the sick as Jesus did. Keep praying!BACK TO LIST