These are indeed interesting times. Who would have thought even a week ago that Masses and other parish events would be cancelled? Here we are, wondering how to respond when we are asked to stay at home and away from each other?
I hear people wonder aloud, “Jesus didn’t exclude himself from lepers so why should we separate ourselves and are not able to go to Mass during this health crisis?” A couple of things….Remember, leprosy has plagued humanity since the beginning of time. It is mentioned 68 times in the Bible, 55 times in the Hebrew Scriptures and 13 times in the New Testament. Let’s also remember that people of Jesus’ time saw leprosy as a punishment from God because of sins the Leper and or the sins of his ancestors committed.
Lepers were banished from society because a) the fear of contracting leprosy and b) they were excluded because of their great sinfulness. They were basically dead to society.
Jesus’ approach and interactions with the lepers was not so much to demonstrate that it’s ok to mingle with lepers, but rather it is ok to mingle among sinners. Also, Jesus when interacting with lepers, was healing them. Actually when Jesus healed the lepers he was doing more than that, he was giving them their life back. These stories of Jesus and the lepers are not so much healing stories as they are resurrection stories.
Of course we are called to show compassion to those who are sick and even contagious, but it doesn’t mean we should disregard our own health and the health of others. Common sense prevails, just ask any doctor or nurse.
So, when you hear those who complain about the restrictions of today’s health crisis, it is important to realize that choosing life is not about being cavalier with your own life but being pro-everyone’s life. Use common sense and not endanger your own life and those of others. I am pretty confident that Jesus would tell you the same thing.