In Biblical times, if a person had been diagnosed with a skin disease such as leprosy, he or she was obligated to cover up and warn others when in public places. “Unclean! Unclean!” This was the directive from God regarding leprosy in the Old Testament. (Leviticus 13:45) People feared the disfiguring disease and vigorously followed God’s command, but if the afflicted had no one to provide for them in their isolation, they died of starvation instead of the disease. I doubt God wanted these hapless souls to live in garbage dumps of separation.
Does the call of “Unclean” sound familiar?
In the United States and elsewhere, governments have decided to isolate those who have come down with covid. They even isolate those who have been in contact with friends and family discovered to have covid. The results are heartbreaking.
Case in point: my mom. She’s ninety years old and lives in an assisted living facility in a state known for its common sense practices regarding the pandemic. She has congestive heart failure. She’s been vaccinated. Fully. She enjoyed dinner with a friend in the dining room last week. The friend tested positive for covid. Because of that, Mom has been sentenced to ten days in isolation due to “contact” with an infected person. It’s been six days. Mom is not sick, but she’s mentally and emotionally exhausted by the rules which keep her “healthy.” She wants to go to heaven. Now.
For the last two years—two years—our nation has shut down due to fear from a virus. Hiding in our homes hasn’t stopped its spread. Vaccines haven’t conquered it. Those little bugs invisible to the human eye run rampant through every nation no matter how they have chosen to battle it.
The Jesus Response
Jesus healed more than one leper. He looked each individual in the eye before He ever acted. Eye contact alone allowed the leper to feel seen, to be known, and not forgotten. Then Jesus touched the leper. He dared to contaminate Himself. Some of them hadn’t felt human touch for years! What a blessing! Even if He hadn’t healed them, His touch was comfort and a second affirmation that they were worthy of notice. And then He healed the person. Strength coursed through the nervous system and bloodstream and muscles and skin. What had been corroded became new and shiny and beautiful.
For the past two years, the long arm of government has decreed we must not draw close, we must not touch, we must not be in the same room breathing the same air of one who is ill with covid. Sick people in their weakest moments are deprived of the presence of loved ones willing to connect with them the way Jesus did.
We may not have the power to heal like Jesus, but we have the ability to love like He does.
The scourge of leprosy faded, and this pandemic will also fizzle. Until it does, may we imitate Jesus as we draw near to our loved ones who are ill.
Do you have friends or family in quarantine due to covid or who are isolated for any other reason? Look them in the eye. Connect with words and feelings and smiles. Pat their shoulders. Dare to love them more than you love yourself. Your actions will be a balm for their pain. And your love for others will rise like the aroma of incense, pleasing to your Father in heaven.