Summary: A monologue from the leper healed by Jesus.
Style: Dramatic. Duration: 10min
Scripture: Mark 1: 40-45
Nothing could have prepared me for that day, though I suppose I had been wanting it, waiting for it my whole life.
You would never know it to look at me now, would you? Not when I’m dressed as well as I am, looking quite respectable, like I could fit in just about anywhere. You would probably invite me into your home, if the occasion warranted it.
Suitable for the occasion. Pah! For me there never was a suitable occasion. The only company I kept were others who were shunned like me. Delegated to the outside.
I was a leper. A simple skin disease with a terrible reputation. Actually, it could be any of a dozen different diseases, even psoriasis as you call it. Something as common as that, if it was in a visible place, could turn a society against you.
I made a living as a beggar. Living with others like me, sharing the cooking, stories, always knowing we would be our own society. Every culture has them. Groups within groups, finding their own identity, supporting one another. But always wishing to be accepted by those outside the group.
All the years of my illness I brought in enough to buy food and clothes and make do. It is a business. It is a skill. There is an order to my world, rules and laws that make things work.
Always be pathetic enough so they can see how much you need.
Never be disgusting enough to make them avoid you.
Always put yourself in a place where they have to pass you closely, so they can’t avoid your infirmity.
Never block their passage or be so loud that they can condemn you, or call the soldiers.
Always make them feel guilt for your infirmity and their health.
Never try to make them responsible for your well-being - they will avoid that at all costs.
Always live humbly. If they see you have anything nice they will think you don’t deserve pity.
Never trust them to give today if they gave before. People are not dependable.
Always and never. Those are the rules. We must never forget the rules. They are what make life livable. They are how we defend ourselves. They are how we protect ourselves from what we fear.
I had those rules memorized. They were the codes of my sub-culture. By those rules I was allowed to exist.
But I chafed at those rules. Deep in my bones I knew I was more than society had allowed me to be.
Inside me was a child of God. If we are all made in the image of God, or so I was told, then maybe God is afflicted, too. Did you ever wonder that?
If God made the rules, then why was I born the way I was? Actually, I don’t think God made those rules, if what they mean is that some are to be treated with shame and derision and others acceptable. Those are human rules. Based on fear and ignorance.
I accepted the rules I had to live by, but only to survive. I knew I would never change the attitudes of society. I wonder if even God could change the human heart. Make us more willing to live in another’s skin.
It went on for years like that. Nothing changed. I suspected nothing ever would.
And then there were : about a healer - from the town of Nazareth, of all places.
The rumours were that he was coming to our village. Here, to Capernaum.
So there I was, begging outside the synagogue, following the rules of acceptable conduct for a leper. Visible but not too intrusive.
And there he came, with the crowd. Now on a normal day, I would have thought, “this could not be good for business. Too many people and nobody notices you.”
But that day, I thought differently. I felt different. I guess I would say that I actually felt like myself. Who I really was.
The healer was coming my way. I knew I had nothing to lose. I put down my beggar’s bowl, and plowed into the crowd, ignoring the taunts of the people who pulled back when they saw me getting too close.
I knew I was breaking the rules but I didn’t care any more.
I elbowed my way to the man, and began to beg like I had never begged before. Not polite at all. Insistent. Demanding. “If you choose, you can make me clean.”
He stopped his walking. He looked me in the eye and said, “I do choose. Be made clean.” It was that simple. I looked at my skin and it was - clean. As smooth as a child’s.
But then he warned me not to tell others until I had gone to the priest for a ritual cleansing. Why? Had he not healed me? Why go to the priest?
The priests had not helped me in the past, and had themselves shunned me. Why should I go to them for a blessing?
The rules had already been broken. For me, at least. I went nowhere near the temple. Instead I went everywhere I could and told everyone I could find. I understand now that this made things difficult for the healer. But that was his problem.
That is not to say I am not grateful. I truly am. I am healed and whole.
But here is what I want to say to you.
Everyone is a child of God. The socially acceptable and the outcast alike. I have been both, and I know. Don’t look down on those society has put on the margins. They are worth as much in the eyes of God as anyone with money and nice clothes and a good job.
It takes a lot of faith when you are considered unacceptable to know that God loves you. But that is the gospel, friends. I hope you know that. I hope the life you live shows that you mean it. May God bless you, too.
(C) Copyright, Jim Hatherly, all rights reserved.
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