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© St Peter’s Church Bromyard

One of the famous healing stories of Jesus goes like this: A man with leprosy came to him and begged him on his knees, “If you are willing, you can make me clean.” Filled with compassion, Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cleansed.

Today, we can easily miss the point. To have leprosy (until modern medicine triumphed over it resulting in a massive global reduction of this scourge) was to be under a death sentence in two ways. Firstly, it would probably kill you sooner or later. But, worse, it meant that you endured a living death of separation from human society. For years.

You had to wear special clothing. You had to keep away from ordinary human habitation. You could touch no one. Imagine being touched by no one, let alone hugging them, or kissing them. Not just for hours on end. Or days. For years.

For Jesus to reach out and touch this man was not simply to run the risk of infection (assuming he even understood the concept) it was to enter another person’s world, an entirely closed world. This we believe Jesus did on the big scale in his coming to this world as a human being just like you and me. And on the small scale, the fact that he was willing to touch this leper shows that Jesus is real, practical not mere theory. He gets involved, gets his hands dirty.

Today, he calls us to do the same, to follow his example. We may not have actual sufferers of leprosy in our midst in Bromyard but there are plenty of people who are untouchable in many other less obvious ways. Sometimes they will come across our path like the leper did with Jesus. They may even call out to us for our help: will we respond or do the easy thing and turn away? Or we may need to go in search of them: they may be closer to us than perhaps we appreciate. We might have it in our power to do even the small thing which will make a difference.

So Jesus touched that leper. Far from being infected with the man’s leprosy, it was Jesus’ power which ‘infected’ the man and made him clean of his dreaded disease. His power is at work in us, still, today. Far from being overwhelmed by problems, Jesus’ power transforms them, again and again.

Clive Evans.