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Seeing the Unseen, Hearing the Unheard, and Touching the Untouchable. A Mom Reflects on Jesus Meeting the Leper in Luke's Gospel

Have you ever taken the 5 Love Languages test?  If you know me, you probably aren’t surprised to know that mine is quality time.  I love to grab a cozy beverage and settle into a good conversation with the people that I love.  When I took the test many years ago, I had a sprinkling of the others, but I had a big fat 0 for physical touch.


I’m not a hugger.  I may talk with my hands, but I won’t be putting them on your shoulder or arm when we are having an intimate conversation.  But being a mom to many, especially so many littles, means that physical touch is a huge part of my life.


Mom holding her two sons
Being a mom to so many young kids means that physical touch is a huge part of my life!

John is 5 months old, so I still spend a lot of time snuggling him.  Joe is 2.5 and no longer takes a formal nap, but many days he will snuggle up beside me on my chair during nap time and will fall asleep on me while I read.


The “twins” are 4 and 6 but can’t eat their meals unless their chairs are smashed up against mine, sandwiching me between them.  And they both still pile on top of me during our family rosary every night.


The number of times a day I am touched is unbelievable!  Sometimes it is too much and come evening, I have to request that I get to sit by myself and everyone else has to sit on our monster sectional during the rosary.  I reach my breaking point and just need a reprieve. 

In every vocation, there are little crosses that others may envy.  It was this very thing that I chose to meditate on when reading Luke 5:12-16.


“Now there was a man full of leprosy in one of the towns where he was; and when he saw Jesus, he fell prostrate, pleaded with him, and said, “Lord, if you wish, you can make me clean.”  Jesus stretched out his hand, touched him, and said, “I do will it.  Be made clean.”  And the leprosy left him immediately.  Then he ordered him not to tell anyone, but “Go, show yourself to the priest and offer for your cleansing what Moses prescribed; that will be proof for them.”  The report about him spread all the more, and great crowds assembled to listen to him and be cured of their ailments, but he would withdraw to deserted places to pray.”


Leprosy is a terrifying disease.  It slowly eats away at the body, killing it off limb by limb.  In ancient times, especially, but even in some crowded third-world countries today, the afflicted get cut off from all of society. 


Typically, when someone is struggling, their family and friends surround them with love and support.  Not with leprosy.  A leper is exiled from his home and his town.  From his family and neighbors.  He is instructed to stay away from everyone, and even yell unclean when approaching someone. 


Homeless person sleeping by a closed shop.
Lepers are exiled from their homes and communities.

What a lonely and terrible way to spend the last days of your life! 


Allow me to put myself in the leper's shoes.  What if I woke up one morning with a strange rash.  I might not stress it too much the first day and would continue to go about my day, caring for my 8 kids.  But after a few days, I would start to get worried as the sores continued to grow.  I might hold onto them a little longer, and hug them a little tighter.  Soon the fear growing in the back of my mind would become a reality, and the moment I dreaded has come.  I kiss my husband goodbye and hug every one of my kids, praying that they will remember me and that they will be ok, growing up without their mom to care for them.


Then I head out to live in the streets among the other outcasts of society.  Praying that my family will leave me some crusts of bread, because soon they too begin to fear me, forgetting that I’m still a person, and not just my disease.  I begin begging for my food as my body slowly decays before my eyes.  I pray that God, in His mercy, will end my life so that my suffering will finally come to an end. 


But one day, I hear Him coming.  Or rather, I can FEEL Him coming.  A warmth, like something I had never felt before, slowly penetrates through the thick layers of despair to pierce my frozen heart.  It awakens the tiniest whisper of hope. 


I yell unclean to Him as He passes by, but instead of being met with fear or indifference, He meets my eye.  Nobody has looked into my eyes since the day I walked away from my beloved family.  He sees me!  And then He even smiles at me!  The hope I felt while He was approaching is growing and I look up into His beautiful face.  He sees the loneliness and despair and I suddenly feel vulnerable.  I fall to my knees and cover my face.  I know that He is still standing above me and I realize that this is my only chance.


“Lord, if you wish, you can make me clean.”  I choke through my tears.  I dare to peek up at him.  With a tender smile, He reaches down and touches my diseased shoulder, and tells me that He does will it.  “Be made clean.” 


Jesus healing the leper in Luke 5:12-16.
Jesus Heals

He gives me further instructions, but I can’t make sense of what He is saying because the warmth I felt earlier has turned into a roaring fire in my belly.  I have been made new! 

I run to the temple for purification and after all of this time I finally head home.  As I squeeze my kids, and husband, I take in every smell, touch, and sound of them.  Then I begin to tell them of this unbelievable man Who saw me when no one else saw me.  Who heard me when no one else heard me and Who touched me when I was untouchable.


This Jesus, who came to the leper in the gospel of Luke, is the same Jesus today, tomorrow, and yesterday.  His love for us is so pure that He doesn’t see our blemishes, only a beautiful creation to be loved, cherished, and healed.  All we have to do is ask.

 

Until next time, your sister in Christ,

 

Leah

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