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Deep Cleaning

The Jews of Jesus’ time took the old expression “cleanliness is next to Godliness” pretty literally. Swine and other non-Kosher foods were considered ‘unclean’. Sinners were also condemned as ‘unclean’. Consequently, the fact that Moses commanded lepers to shout out that they were ‘unclean’ to warn other people about their condition had some serious moral connotations. It wasn’t bad enough that they had a chronic illness and had to live on the outskirts of society to prevent it from spreading.

They also suffered from a common assumption that God must be punishing them for some sort of terrible sin. Thankfully, most people these days no longer associate physical ailments with moral defects—although, tragically, people infected by HIV carried a similar stigma not so long ago. However, the truth is that, whether we’re physically healthy or not—and whether we want to admit it or not—we’re all infected by sin. We all have a chronic spiritual illness which is far more fatal than any physical disease. Fortunately, God has also given us a cure. We only need to approach Jesus in faith, as the leper does in today’s Gospel, and he’ll touch us with his healing power. As long as we stay close to him, he’s always willing to wash away our sins and restore our hope of everlasting life. Surely this is Good News that has to be shared with everyone we meet. It’s sad that so many Christians in our society are inclined to keep their faith to themselves.

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