Two thousand years ago many skin diseases were called ‘leprosy’ and these diseases were generally contained through social isolation. The ‘unclean’ were forbidden to live with the rest of society. They were literally cut off from their family and friends. Even touching a leper was forbidden, making that person ‘unclean’ too. Today we have medicines and treatments for most, if not all, these ancient diseases and so they are no longer a threat to us. But we still have diseases that eat away at our spirit in even more devastating ways than leprosy. Anger, hatred, bitterness, revenge, rebellion, jealousy, rage, these are some of the emotions that destroy our inner peace and joy just as surely as leprosy destroys the body. These emotions can separate us from others; they can isolate us from relatives, from those with whom we work and live. We don’t need a law to bring about this isolation. We do it ourselves. In fact, sometimes these emotions make us our own worst enemy and we can’t even live with ourselves, let alone others.
Our Lord wants to reach out and touch us and heal us just as much as he wanted to heal the leper. He wants to touch our hearts. He wants to heal our destructive thoughts. He wants us to let go of past wounds done to us and by us. He wants to forgive us and help us forgive others and ourselves. He wants us to live in harmony and peace. He wants this because isolation is not part of God’s plan. Like the leper, we have to come to Jesus and ask for healing. We have to want to be healed. We have to believe that we can be healed. We have to be willing to do the work of healing, which, as we all know can be a very slow and painful process.
In this task Our Lord will reach out and touch us. It may be directly. It may be through people he sends into our lives. It may be through spiritual direction or professional counselling. The process of healing may be instantaneous, but more than likely it will be a slow process. But one thing we believe: Christ wants healing and wholeness for us all. He will be with us in the process and he will love us unconditionally just as we are.