Your are loved entirely

Your are loved entirely

Mark 1:40-45

There is no situation in this world where you are not loved entirely, deeply, profoundly, awesomely, by Jesus Christ.

In the name of the father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen

I’ve got an account here of of leprosy and its symptoms. I want to read them to you.

There are three kinds of leprosy. The first is called Nodular Leprosy. It begins with unaccountable lethargy and pains in the joints. Then there appears on the body, especially on the back, symmetrical, discoloured patches of little nodules. At first pink and then turning brown. The skin is thickened. The nodules gather, especially in the folds of the cheek, the nose, the lips and the forehead.

The whole appearance of the face is changed until the afflicted person loses all human appearance and looks. The nodules grow larger and larger. They ulcerate, and from them comes a foul discharge. The eyebrows fall out, the eyes become staring, the voice becomes hoarse, and the breath wheezes because of the ulceration of the vocal cords, the hands and the feet also ulcerate. Slowly, the sufferer becomes a mass of ulcerated growth.

The average course of the disease is nine years and in the end it leads to mental decay, to coma and then death. Those suffering from this type of leprosy become utterly repulsive both to themselves and to others. 

The second kind of leprosy is called anaesthetic leprosy, and this is where you start to lose feeling, all your nerves stop working.

The most common form of leprosy is where you get both of those sets of symptoms. So you have the physical distress, you have the physical ailments, you have the mental ailment and you also have the loss of feeling that of course, is what leads to people losing limbs.

Why have I read out these horrible descriptions on a gentle Sunday morning in February when you’re all dreaming of your Sunday lunch?  

It’s physically absolutely horrible. I want you to understand the sheer disgust that the vast majority of the population held these lepers in. Lepers were sent to leper colonies, they were sent to special hospitals called lazars, where they had to hide away, they weren’t allowed to look outside except through something called a leper’s slot where they could peer outside and see the outside world. They weren’t allowed to approach anybody. They weren’t allowed to talk to anybody. 

They were visually disgusting and to the whole of society. 

I tell you all of this because I want you to understand how outrageous, how absolutely outrageous it was that this leper should approach Jesus.

It’s beyond comprehension. It’s beyond understanding, 

How this leper got near Jesus in the first place? 

That’s the first thing to think about. What that suggests to me is that the disciples are finally starting to understand that to Jesus, nobody is beyond the pale. Nobody is too far gone for redemption. Nobody is unapproachable in his eyes. To Jesus we are all approachable, more importantly all may approach Him.

We are all wonderful in creation. It doesn’t matter what we’ve done or what we suffer with how unacceptable we may be to the rest of society. We can go to Jesus, and when we feel like that, when we think that perhaps we’ve done something that’s just unbelievably unacceptable, that we can’t even approach Jesus, scripture tells us, this gospel tells us, you can approach Jesus. 

It’s all very well saying you can approach Jesus, but how will you feel when you do approach Jesus? Will Jesus even want me? I’m so unworthy, I’ve done all of these things wrong. Society hates me, I hate me!

Yes, Jesus wants you. Yes, Jesus wants to heal you. 

You can almost hear the reproach in Jesus’ voice when he says, of course I want to heal you. The un-muttered next line. Why wouldn’t I? Why wouldn’t I want to heal you?  Of course I want to heal you, and Jesus reaches out and heals the leper immediately.

And what does Jesus tell him? The same thing He tells all those people that he’s healed. Don’t go tell people, don’t go showing off about this. Don’t go boasting about this boast only in the Lord. But go now, go to the temple and be made clean.

That’s an interesting instruction. It’s worth understanding it. If you suffered from leprosy, in fact, if you suffered from any kind of skin condition that might even slightly look like leprosy, you were declared dead to wider society.

There was a service that happened where the priest would pray your funeral over you. You were a dead man walking. And so if you were healed of leprosy there was a complex ritual you had to go to through become alive again in the eyes of wider society.

Now, Jesus didn’t say don’t go do that. All of that is tosh, what Jesus said was, go and do that. And his message remains clear today. We have to engage with the human world if we’ve done something so terrible and so wrong that we don’t think that Jesus will heal us and then we come to Jesus and are healed we must face up to the consequences of those things that we’ve done in society and deal with the human world to be accepted once again. 

But you’re not doing it on your own. This time you’re doing it healed by the love of Jesus Christ. And in this one short gospel, Jesus shows us His compassion, His power and His wisdom.

There is nothing for which you cannot turn to Jesus and seek to be healed. There is no situation in which Jesus will not reach out to you and heal you.

There is no situation in this world where you are not loved entirely, deeply, profoundly, awesomely, by Jesus Christ.

Approach Jesus in this mass at the altar, be healed, be sent out, be alive once more in the world around you.