‘Lord if you choose you can make me clean.’
I’m sometimes a little annoyed with the Jesus we meet at the end of this passage. He seems to disappear into selfishness, leaving behind the hurting; choosing not to heal them. Perhaps this is Jesus showing a bit of his humanity and, when I am stressed or tired, I don’t like it; I struggle to accept it. I’ll come back to that in a bit.
What of the leper who Jesus chose to make clean? We often focus on the miracle. Jesus acted and the leper was miraculously healed. We wish that we could do likewise, that we could reach out and change someone’s life just be touching them. The thing is, we can.
Who is the leper today? Who looks, smells, acts different than we do? Who is pushed out to the fringes of society? Who would we rather not touch? I can think of many, but people who are sometimes seen as untouchables in the UK today might be asylum seekers, LGBT+ people, homeless people, those living with hidden disabilities or mental illness, those convicted of a crime or those who cannot work. Why do ‘we’, the powerful majority, choose not to reach out and touch these people? If we did, perhaps we could change lives. If we did, perhaps we would see miracles here, now. If we did, perhaps we would be relevant.
But, like Jesus, we are also human. We also need to rest. You see, it is a bit unreasonable of me to be annoyed at Jesus for withdrawing from the crowds, and it perhaps says something about my desire to fix everything in my own power! We are also human. We also need a break. Self-care is not selfish. So please, love the so-called ‘untouchables’ but, first, love yourself.