When Jesus had come down from the mountain, great crowds followed him; 2 and there was a leper who came to him and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, if you choose, you can make me clean.” 3 He stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, “I do choose. Be made clean!” Immediately his leprosy was cleansed. ~Matthew 8:1-3
A few weeks ago, a video surfaced of a family hugging one another after weeks of being apart. This in itself might not seem too unusual, except that we are in a time when many of us have been much farther apart from our families than is normal for us. We have been unable to share birthdays or anniversaries, unable to be in the same space let alone share a hug. However, this inventive family, used a plastic sheet, hung it on a clothes line in their back yard, cut plastic arms into it and with this, were able to hug their Grandmother that they had not seen for weeks. There is an exquisite joy on the faces of loved ones as they are all able to embrace. In a time when we need to refrain from touch, for our safety and that of others, this moment of embrace was filled with much joy and many tears. And I cried too.
Jesus knows that touch is important. Jesus knows the difference that touch can make in the life of one kept apart for so long. One considered untouchable. So, he stretches out his hand to this one, to the leper, and immediately his leprosy is cleansed.. We need this healing touch of Jesus in this time of pandemic, in this time of physical distancing. And Jesus responds. Jesus, uninhibited by the same restrictions as we are, comes to us, reaches out to us. Jesus heals us, touching us with grace and mercy, and we are healed from whatever disease or infirmity, whatever illness or virus threatens us. Until that time when we can hold our loved ones close, know that Jesus holds you close.
God of healing touch, we ask you to heal our sick world. Sick with the covid virus. Sick with greed, with power, with racism. Heal our sick world, O God, and bring us to that everlasting freedom and wellness that you desire for us and all creation. We ask it in Jesus’ name. Amen.