Tuesday 05 March 2019

Bible Book:

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 cleansed of his leprosy. (v. 2-3)

Matthew 8:1-4 Tuesday 5 March 2019

Psalm: Psalm 89:19-37


Lepers were total outcasts from society. Not only were they forbidden to touch anyone, or anything that belonged to someone else, but if someone dared to take pity on them and reach out in comfort, or charity, then that person would also be contaminated and condemned. There was no apparent cure for the disease then, so lepers were treated as if they were dead and avoided at all costs. Very pious people would go to extraordinary lengths to avoid anyone with any kind of skin condition, whether it was real leprosy or not.

Some of these lepers may have been pitied for their suffering, especially by their families and friends, but as sickness was usually considered to be a punishment for sin, their pity was not translated into compassion, or assistance, in case the sin would contaminate the one who was offering help.

Jesus was fully aware of the danger of contagious disease, but he was also concerned for the suffering man and for the fact that he was being ostracised because of his condition. The crowd that had surrounded Jesus as soon as he appeared had rapidly melted away as the leper approached him. Even then the leper was unsure of his welcome. His "Lord, if you are willing" was an acknowledgement that he was in the presence of a holy teacher, but also indicated that not many holy people were ready to help him. Jesus touched him and healed him and carefully instructed him to go to the priests and perform the necessary rituals that would give him a certificate of health. It was a cure, in every sense of that word.

Pity, pain and piety can produce problems,
especially for the sufferer.

Pity immobilises emotion and can prevent action
through indolence.

Pain is prolonged when pitying people
offer no help or comfort.

Pious people looking on pain,
but denying help for purposes of piety,
are to be pitied themselves. 

Christ cut through the confusion,
turned pity to compassion, condemned hypocritical piety
and stretched out a hand to heal the pain. 



To Ponder:

  • Leprosy can now be cured but who today do we pity yet avoid?
  • What is the point at which piety becomes a hindrance to compassion?
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