Our Personal Jerusalems

The gospel for today’s readings is a familiar encounter with a leper at the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry. The identification of the man who came to Jesus as “a leper” is not as precise as at first glance it may seem. Medical researchers who have examined the biblical data in Lev. 13–14 feel certain that the biblical term “leprosy” is a collective noun designating a wide variety of chronic skin diseases, not necessarily just Hansen’s disease. Regardless, anyone who was identified as a leper – from Hansen’s disease to a simple skin rash – was reduced to a lowest state of social existence, separated from family, friends, and society at large. It didn’t take much to be designated to the bottom of life.

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