QUARANTINED FOR LIFE


Sign on entrance to Mother House, the former residence of Mother Teresa in Kolkata, West Bengal, India. February 2014


Quarantined for life:

No family for you!

No travel for you!

No civil liberties for you!

No Pain free moments for you!

No touching allowed!


Scripture:

When He (Jesus) came down from the mountainside, large crowds followed Him. A man with leprosy came and knelt before Him and said, "Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean."

Jesus reached out His hand and touched the man. "I am willing," he said,

"Be clean!" Immediately he was cured of his leprosy. Then Jesus said to him,

"See that you don't tell anyone. But go, show yourself to the priest and offer the gift Moses commanded, as a testimony to them."


Leprosy was first introduced to me in the movie theatre. Remember Ben Hur?

How about the famous chariot race of the late 1950's? Judah Ben Hur's mother and sister were released from prison after several years . . as lepers. They were sent to live in caves with other lepers. They crept around slowly, shielding their eyes from the light, their heads and faces covered, entire body hidden under long tattered garments.


When someone saw the leper's face uncovered in this movie . . the close up camera showed the healthy one draw back in horror at the disfigured person. Hands and feet were wrapped in rags to cover where there had once been fingers and toes. For the people of the Bible, however, it was a dread but common affliction. It was so common that the O T book of Leviticus spends two whole chapters teaching priests how to diagnose diseases of the skin and how to perform rites of purification if they became healed. Leviticus 13:38-46.

When they were first diagnosed, a priest would take the person into the church and give him / her last rites. He / she was a dead person walking. It was a slow, painful, agonizing and dehumanizing process.


Lepers were shunned . . because they were contagious certainly, but it was more than that. It was their pain, their loneliness, their fear that no one wanted to catch, and so they were kept at a distance. They were unclean outsiders. Understand? They live over there; we live over here. We are not like them. That was the general consensus at the time.


In the movie Ben Hur, food was lowered down into a valley on a wooden platform with a rope so no one would get too close. Lepers did as they were told. They wore torn clothes, let their hair hang loose, covered their mouths and called out

"UNCLEAN. UNCLEAN" when getting close to an insider. They followed their orders and stood at the proper distance which was 50 yards. 1/2 a football field. Can you picture Jesus at the 50 yard line and seeing this man who called out to him from the end zone.? This disease caused problems with voice boxes and their voices were weak.


Jesus sent him to the priest. Only one reason to do that . . to get a diagnosis:

a verdict . . clean / unclean. insider / outsider . . member of the community /

beggar on the outskirts of town.


What did the man say when he saw he was cleansed? What did the priest say? I bet it was his first time to see someone healed of this monstrous disease. What did Jesus say? Don't tell any one. Why did He say that? He said it a lot! Three more times in Matthew and 4 times in Mark. Palestine was rank with revolutions. Many leaders had come on the scene and been taken down by the might of Rome.

If people found out what Jesus had done, they would want to make Him into a leader. Jesus didn't want that . . he wanted to change people's minds and ideas and show His power was love, not swords.


Jesus sent him to the priest . . to undergo a process . . time to be examined again and again and again before the priest was positively sure the leper was clean.


At the time of her death in September 1997, Mother Teresa's Missionaries of Charity had over 4,000 sisters operating in 123 countries. These included hospices and homes for people with HIV/AIDS, leprosy and tuberculosis. She was able to bring leprosy patients into mainstream at a time when they were dreaded, stigmatized and often abandoned by their families. While her motto was to "Do small things with great love", her small things left a big impact on the lives of the destitute and outcast.


Leprosy today . . the incubation period used to be 7 years . . but now the average is 5 years. Symptoms may occur within 1 year but can also take as long as 20 years or even more.

New leprosy cases detected globally in 2020 by the World Health Organization from 139 countries was 127,558. That includes 8, 629 children below 15 years of age. It is now curable and treatment in the early stages can prevent disability.


Maybe more of the nurse in me came out in this post than as a pastor. It struck me about my complaining or fussing or circumstances . . what if I was a dead woman walking with all these miserable symptoms? What if . . ? Something to think about. How about you?


I felt the Holy Spirit move when listening to this hymn. Have you ever felt that? To me it is a sweet stirring in my chest.







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