Word for the day by Christian Education Forum
Christian approach to untouchables
V3 He stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, “I do choose. Be made clean.”
St. Matthew places this healing miracle of Jesus immediately after Jesus’s sermon on the mount. As the sermon on the mount shows his authoritative teaching, the accounts in Matthew 8 show his authoritative healing. But rather than just being a miraculous act that evoked wonder, Jesus’s miracles served to restore wholeness, not only to the sick but also to the society around the sick person. Here, Jesus’s healing of the leper teaches us a lesson on how our approach should be towards people who are considered outcasts by the society.
Jesus saw the obstacles the leper had crossed to come to Jesus. The leper could have been driven away or stoned by the crowd following Jesus. The leper knew that he was carrying a disease dreaded by the world around him. He knew that other people gave up on him as having a hopeless condition. He had no one who would or could take him to Jesus. He had no previous example of Jesus healing a leper to give him hope. He had no promise that Jesus would heal him. He had no invitation from Jesus or the disciples. He must have felt ashamed and alone in the crowd. And yet, in spite of everything that could have discouraged him from coming to Jesus, he comes and worshipfully requests Jesus for healing.
Jesus understood his need. Jesus felt his pain. We understand Jesus’s heart would have been moved by compassion. And then his hand moved to stretch out and touch the leper. Thomas Aquinas said, “Mercy is having pain in our heart over the pain of the other and taking pain to alleviate that pain.” Regardless of the fact that the society wouldn’t approve of what he did, Jesus showed his mercy on the suffering man. Jesus saw that the leper also needed to be treated with humaneness and be considered a human who needed the touch and love of a human heart.
World Vision’s founder Bob Pierce famously prayed, “Let my heart be broken with the things that break the heart of God”. Today, may our hearts be broken by the pain of people who feel lonely and rejected by the society around them due to their failing health, finances, relationships or because they belong to a different caste, color or creed. God is moved by their pain and so should we.
Dear Lord, fill me with compassion for the suffering, love for those who seek humaneness and strength to lift the fallen. In Jesus name, Amen.
THOUGHT FOR THE DAY
If you have a heart to love and a hand to hold, then you can lift up the fallen. -Anon
Rev. Thomas John, Carmel MTC, Boston
Christian Education Forum, Diocese of NAE of the Mar Thoma Church