"Modern-day Leprosy" - Luke 17:11-19
I was leading a Bible study at UTSA on Monday when the craziest thing happened, and it was definitely unexpected…
In the discussion on Luke 17:11-19 we looked at the ten lepers who were healed and the one that returned to give thanks to Jesus. The focus in this passage was not on the healing itself, but on the response to the healing. Jesus actually seemed a bit upset that the other nine did not return to give thanks. It is assumed that ten lepers went to the priests and tell of what Jesus had done for them. Jesus did not command them to return and give them thanks, but it was as though he expected it.
This made me think of the time I was driving down a street in Dallas in one of the hot summer months with my wife in our nicely air-conditioned car. We passed by a man walking barefoot on the hot sidewalk who appeared to be homeless. As we passed him, my wife demanded that I turn around when I could and give him my sandals. After some debate, I turned around, slowed as we approached the man, rolled down the window, and my wife handed him the sandals. He looked surprised, took the sandals, and went on his way. He didn’t event thank us! These were my favorite pair of sandals! He was ungrateful, or at least that’s how I saw it.
I went on to ask those in the Bible study when they had done someone for someone else, and not received the appreciation they might have expected. After some discussion, I ended the session by posing the question: “What is the modern-day version of leprosy? Is it AIDS? Is it Ebola? Let’s say, for example, that a person sat right next to you and had lunch with us. At the end of the study, when we ask for prayer concerns, the person speaks up and asks for prayer because they have Ebola, and they are scared. Would we lay hands on them as we pray for healing for them?” There was a mixed response to the question. Afterall, it does seem like a pretty far-fetched example.
As we concluded the Bible study and students left the room, a few students and I remained around the table. Then a female student enters the room and asks, “Did I miss the Bible study?” I assured her that it is alright, and there is some food for her, if she would like. She thanked me and says that she is very hungry. It turns out that she is a homeless student.
She sat in the exact seat that I had previously pointed to in our conversation about modern-day leprosy. She talked with us. She ate with us. And we prayed with her. My question about modern-day leprosy was answered. Homelessness is our modern-day leprosy. Think about it – they are seen as “less than” in society, they are not accepted, they are often ignored, their leper colonies are homeless shelters, and no one wants to touch them. But, we laid lands on her as we prayed for her.
Thank you God for invading my comfort, making it awkward, and bringing Scripture to life in an incredibly unexpected way.