As [Jesus] was entering a village, ten lepers met him.
They stood at a distance from him and raised their voice, saying,
“Jesus, Master! Have pity on us!”
And when he saw them, he said,
“Go show yourselves to the priests.”
As they were going they were cleansed.
And one of them, realizing he had been healed,
returned, glorifying God in a loud voice;
and he fell at the feet of Jesus and thanked him. (Lk 17:12-16)
I cannot imagine what leprosy must have been like at the time of Jesus. To have a disease that would immediately ostracize you from the community — from family and friends and all that you hold most dear — must have been truly heart-breaking.
Not only did one face total isolation from all support systems, one also faced a death sentence in the presence of others who were horribly disfigured and who were dying daily.
The fear and sadness generated would be off the charts.
Perhaps the closest that we could come to what would explain the fear of lepers back then would be our new modern-day leprosy: Ebola. People with Ebola are being isolated from families and friends. People with Ebola are being left to die in some parts of the world. People with Ebola are feared.
Jesus had mercy on the ten lepers who came to him asking for help. He sent them to the priests to show themselves and, on the way, they were cured. The curious thing about this is that only one of the lepers recognized that he had been cured. The others were so steeped in the emotion of being sick that they did not realize they were well.
Having an intractable illness often does that to people. They become so overwhelmed with their illness that they cannot see any way out. They do not see the people who are trying to help them or comfort them. They are lost in their own thoughts, their own fears, their own worlds.
When we are lost, Jesus can help us find the way. All we need to do is turn to Him.
FAITH ACTION: Pray for those whose illnesses act to keep them separated from family and friends, that they may find comfort this day.