A man by the name of Bob Considine tells the story of the time he accompanied an infant Vietnamese orphan to the United States so she could be adopted after the Vietnam War. In the long flight to the United States, the baby’s eyes overflowed with tears but she made absolutely no sound. Bob found the flight attendant and asked her what the problem was. The attendant had seen war orphans before, and she was quick to tell Bob that this was normal. She said, “The reason they don’t make a noise when they cry is because they learned a long time ago that nobody will come.”
Certainly breaks your heart to hear something like this, doesn’t it? A baby feeling so unloved that it has learned that no one will come to help, no one cares!
Although the ancient disease of leprosy described in Mark’s gospel. Is no longer a threat to us, it can serve as an analogy for something more than a terrible physical disease. The leper was an outcast, was unloved, rejected. There are things that can happen to a person in their life that can make them feel like a “leper”. That’s a terrible way to feel! And this is the very kind of thing that Christ wants to break through and heal in our own lives. Lepers had no hope of receiving love, no hope of being accepted as persons, no hope of enjoying ordinary human companionship. But people of the 21st century can experience these same kinds of things. And sometimes the hursts from our past can scar us and have an effect on the rest of our lives. It’s a kind of “leprosy of the soul”.
Yet, just as Jesus rejected the conventions of his time and actually touched and healed the leper in Mark’s gospel, so Jesus wants to come into the very scene that still causes us pain to bring companionship, acceptance, compassion, forgiveness, love.
I think that most of us have felt rejected at one time or another. The feelings of guilt, unworthiness, isolation, loneliness, spiritual flatness, perhaps even feeling unloved can lie beneath a person’s “bright exterior”. Yet we are told today that we can bring the dark and frightened side of ourselves and present it to Christ who embraces what others reject, and touches what others shun, who ignores the labels, slurs and categories others construct.
Think of that little Vietnamese baby on the plane…the message today is this: Jesus will come. If no one else will come, Jesus will.