Contemplating the Healing of a Leper
Alexander, Andy, S.J.
Waldron, Maureen McCann
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Text from the first four paragraphs of "Contemplating the Healing of a Leper"I had been a leper for 30 years. It wasn't very bad at first. My family knew the law, and like me, covered up the first few signs on my skin. Gradually, as the white, flaky areas started to spread, it was impossible to hide, and even my loved ones bowed to the law and sent me away.I understood the reason for my exile out of towns and my separation from any contact with others. Of course, there was the fact that I was contagious. But, beyond that, these signs of inflammation and disease of my skin indicated that I was a sinner. Something inside of me must be decayed or unclean. That is the real reason a leper like me is expelled from society and from contact with anyone. Any person who even got close to me would be rendered unclean themselves.So, I lived in isolation in the wilderness. This disease is bad enough, but the isolation is worse. The feeling of being unclean, contagious, "un-touchable," is horrible. I examined myself over and over and asked, "What have you done? What inner disorder is showing itself on my skin?" It didn't matter that I couldn't find big things. After a while, I just felt horrible about myself. I started to see myself as one disgusting mess. I happily did what the law required. I shouted, "Unclean! Unclean!" whenever anyone would come near me, to warn them, that I was no good, that I was toxic, that I was to be shunned at all costs.Most people just altered their path and avoided me. Sometimes people would shout obscenities at me, just to make sure I wouldn't come close. Most just looked afraid. One time, I heard a person damn me to hell. I heard his companion say, "Maybe the prophet from Nazareth could help this wretched soul. After all, he has cured so many." The first fellow responded, "Who knows. I hear the Nazarene eats and drinks with sinners. But, I can't imagine he'd be defiled by a leper." And, he continued cursing at me.