The Willingness to Heal: Responding to a Health Pandemic the Way Jesus Would
By Rev. Christian Briones, Associate Minister, Mayflower United Church of Christ
Luke 5:12-16 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
12 Once, when he was in one of the cities, there was a man covered with leprosy.[a] When he saw Jesus, he bowed with his face to the ground and begged him, “Lord, if you choose, you can make me clean.” 13 Then Jesus[b] stretched out his hand, touched him, and said, “I do choose. Be made clean.” Immediately the leprosy[c] left him.
We find many stories in the Gospels where Jesus interacts with sick people, Jesus speaks words of life, Jesus agitates powerful structures that allow sickness to run rampant in his context, Jesus heals these people, ultimately Jesus responds with his life and words by embodying what it means to care.
To care for the world around you, to care for the world beyond you, and to care for the world after you. We find Jesus inserting himself in a lot of places where there is a great need for healing, particularly among the most vulnerable.
This passage here in Luke stands out to me because we Christians often create Jesus to be someone who almost unconsciously wanted to bring about goodness and healing in the world. But I think there was a really human side to Jesus where that wasn’t really Jesus default response, I think Jesus had to learn to be that and I think we see a glimpse of Jesus acknowledging that here in this text.
When the leper comes to Jesus, he tells Jesus if you choose you can make me clean. The person who is called a leper, acknowledges that Jesus had a choice to make. Jesus can or Jesus can not choose make him well.
and Jesus responds, “I do choose, be made clean.”
All of us, like Jesus find ourselves in the midst of sickness. Political sickness, physical sickness, the sickness of corporate greed, the sickness of white supremacy, the sickness of queerphobia, xenophobia..
When you go to a doctor and tell them your head hurts you may find out that your headache is connected to another ailment. In that same way, all of these sicknesses exposing the ways they’re actually all interconnected, all symptomatic of each other and shedding a light on what some of us have known all along time that each strand builds and strengthens the other like a web of death, but today this web is brought to light and leaves us to imagine what would a collective, grand healing look like, a grand care like like what is possible right now? if we can cure one type of sickness, then maybe we can cure them all, after all they are all a part of one another.
Some of us are up against some really tough and scary challenges the midst of the havoc the Coronavirus is wreaking upon many of our lives, and the lives of the people we’re called take care of. Some of the most low paid workers in the country are making it possible for us to eat, the least we can do is return care for people whose jobs put them in the way of danger at this time. It is both the doctor and the grocery store employee that make it possible for us to be well, both the bus driver, and child care center owner that make flourishing possible.
This obstacle ahead is a difficult obstacle. Indeed we will, and have wondered if we can overcome this. We have wondered If the sicknesses in our midst are simply a part of the DNA of of this country’s body, leaving us hopeless and without a cure.
But today people of God, I proclaim to you that the same spirit of God that dwelled In Jesus to empower him to heal the sickness in the leper that came to him, to heal the sickness in the world around him, is the same spirit of God that dwells in you and I. It is the same Spirt of God that dwelled in the prophet Eli’jah, the same spirit that dwelled in the prophet muhammud, peace be upon him, and same spirit of God that dwells in you Oby, Javan, Corinne, Vivian, the same spirit of God in all of us.
Leading us, empowering us
And it is the same spirit, that if we let it, will lead us to respond like Jesus did. The willingness to heal.
People of God, this country, the state of Minnesota, the earth itself is a leper reaching out to us, and they’re wanting to know if someone cares, can you hear their voices saying If you choose you can make me clean, what will you choose?